Whitesburg KY

Seedtime on the Cumberland pumps more than quarter million into local economy

Seedtime on the Cumberland 2008, the 22nd annual celebration presented by Appalshop, involved more than 1,900 participants during its June 10 through June 14 run in Whitesburg. Using a formula developed by Appalachian State University for MerleFest, Seedtime organizers calculated a local economic impact of $261,000 from the event, festival chair Art Menius reported. Seedtime drew participants from Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Indonesia, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana. Threequarters of the attendees came from Kentucky, but only 31 percent from Letcher County itself.

“We’re very proud to contribute both to the cultural health of the area and the economic health of Letcher County,” Menius said. “Seedtime 2008 proves that money invested in the arts and culture delivers a seven-fold return to the economy. What is more important, however, is presenting outstanding musicians, films, crafts, and other cultural activities here in Whitesburg. Whitesburg is the cultural capital of southeastern Kentucky.”

Fifteen visiting media producers from Indonesia created both audio and video pieces about Seedtime. These were presented at Summit City Lounge on June 18 to an enthusiastic audience. The audio story will be broadcast on radio in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Attendees enjoyed performances by Kathy Mattea, Darrell and Wayne Scott, Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys, Jim & Ada McCown with Paul Smith, Lee Sexton, Kentucky Wild Horse, Brett Ratliff and the Clack Mountain String Band, Rich and the Po’ Folks, Music of Coal, and the Cowan Creek Pick and Bow All-Stars. The event also included jam sessions, film screenings, picking contests, gallery exhibits, Singing on the Mountain presented at Indian Bottom Church by Roadside Theater, literary readings featuring new work of Gurney Norman, a square dance with caller Randy Wilson, a residency by the Fossil Fools Collective, a Youth Bored concert, Appalachian Media Institute (AMI) work, international exchange activities featuring Indonesian and Texas media artists, nature hikes, and craft and food vendors. Storyteller Angelyn DeBord performed Saturday afternoon, while The Cowan Women presented an original play, “It’s About Time,” in the Appalshop Theater.

Seedtime 2009, part of Appalshop’s 40th anniversary celebration, is scheduled for June 9 through 13.

Data from interviews with 55 festival participants indicated that they attended an average of two days of the festival and spent one and a third nights in Letcher County. Not counting tickets, the average Seedtime attendee spent $128 in Letcher, Menius said.

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