Jackson County Arts and Culture
Jackson County is home to quilters, crafters, woodworkers, writers and other talented artisans. The county seat, McKee, is a charming small town located at the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest and designated as both a Kentucky Trail Town and Gig-Certified Community.
McKee is headquarters of the People’s Rural Telephone Cooperative (PRTC) which serves both Jackson and Owsley Counties and is much more than its name implies. In addition to telephone and HDTV cable service, PRTC is a Gig-Capable Provider, certified by the Rural Broadband Association, offering high-speed fiber broadband internet to every household in the two counties. This high-speed access provides a leg-up for local creative industry, particularly folks working with digital media and design or seeking to participate in the digital economy.
This effort exemplifies the blending of traditional culture with 21st century technology. At times, work mules (traditionally used to haul logs harvested from steep mountainsides) pulled the cable through challenging topographies that machines could not traverse.
The cooperative also produces and distributes content for the community including “Local Treasures” segments on their local cable TV station and a bi-monthly magazine with local and regional interest stories, recipes and more.
Another boon to creative industry is the Jackson County Regional Food Center which serves as a resource for culinary arts and entrepreneurship by providing farmers and other small businesses space and equipment for developing, producing, packing and storing value-added food products. They also offer consultation and other services, such as nutritional analysis.
Tourists and local residents alike are encouraged to visit the Big Hill Welcome Center, a restored farmhouse on Highway 421 that serves as the tourism office, vending space for local artisans and a community gathering space for special events.
In addition to these features, residents note pride in their Veteran’s Memorial and Civil War history, Flat Lick Falls Recreational Scenic Area, Oakwood Acres Historical Village, and the annual Stringbean Festival, a bluegrass music festival celebrating the life of Jackson County native and Grand Ole Opry star David “Stringbean” Akemon.
Students in the Jackson County High School Travel and Tourism class developed group projects to showcase local creative assets with support from visiting artists Judy Sizemore and Dianne Simpson. Here you can view their videos about area attractions Flat Lick Falls and Oakwood Acres, a presentation about painted quilt blocks students created as public art and recordings of original music and poetry paired with photographs of the county.