Went up on the mountain to get a load of corn.
Raccoon set his dogs on me, the possum blowed his horn.
It’s that kind of a year. Things are bassackward. Pollen is so bad this spring that people in the trailer parks are turning their methamphetamine back into Sudafed. The anniversary of several dozen deaths in an Eastern Kentucky mine explosion was celebrated by the state Senate voting to abolish mine inspections. The governor called in the presidents of the universities and told them to go to hell. The Wildcats won the NCAA. It snowed on April 9 and got cold just long enough to kill the apple blossoms. Elkhorn City has an annual Apple Blossom Festival in memory of an apple tree they once had up there.
Lawyer Eric Conn was let out of jail on inhumane conditions. He must remain on the mountain at Northpoint in his $1.9 million mansion and look down on Hillbilly Days out the window and cannot come down among us. He had to surrender his passport, which will prevent several marriages.
Conn’s main pursuer is Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, perhaps the most certifiably ignorant American. It almost makes you want to be for Conn.
But none of that matters when Hillbilly Days comes, as it will this Thursday, rain or shine. Well, it shined one year. Hillbilly Days is the only festival in the world involving self-parody. Chris Stapleton would not even look odd at Hillbilly Days, and would be considered under dressed. The definition of a hillbilly is any mountain person who is not ashamed to be called one. The rest, who went to junior college, hate the whole idea of Hillbilly Days and leave town, which raises the intelligence level of Pikeville for a few days. The rest of us celebrate old stuff, old clothes, old cars, old music, old people and new moonshine. February was an excellent month for the master distillers who craft our liquid folk art.
Hillbilly Days admits that there is some truth to the stereotypes. We do wear old hats in the mountains, and people of the finest character wear bib overalls but, in truth, they have about been replaced by those blue work clothes with incandescent orange strips sewed on. We do talk funny, but only the knowing connect our musical dialect to its Middle English roots.
Shriners dress up like Arabs and parade swinging big, sword-looking things, and that is starting to make us nervous. Year before last two men in the parade got into a fist fight, and continued their fight and their march at the same time, so that the maximum number of spectators could watch. Maybe this year we could run the parade up the hill past Conn’s house so he could look out the window.
Once Jib Colley, who had no legs, got a few sheets to the wind and danced for 20 minutes to “Sally Goodin” by jerking his wheelchair in perfect rhythm. Jib was supposed to be ashamed to be a hillbilly, but never lost enough of his innocence and purity to feel that shame.
Most who come to Hillbilly Days for the first time are overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness of the festival and never miss it again.
Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney at websterlawrencer