Leslie County Arts and Culture
Leslie County is perhaps best known for its bluegrass music heritage and culture. The county is home to many talented musicians and hosts the annual Osborne Brothers Hometown Festival, celebrating its namesake music legends every August. The festival brings in some of the biggest names in bluegrass music along with fans from across the country. Leslie County is also home to the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music, a part of the Hazard Community and Technical College System. This distinctive technical school prepares students for careers in music ranging from independent studio artists to sound technicians and draws students from around the world to its campus and on-line programs.
Driving through downtown Hyden, visitors are likely to note paintings honoring bluegrass traditions as well as seasonal plywood cut-out paintings decorating public spaces. These are produced by the local Redbud Arts and Crafts Council through a unique partnership with the Leslie County Area Technology Center. Vocational students create CAD drawings for the shapes, then cut and prepare the wooden pieces for council members to paint.
Residents also express great pride in the historic locale of the Frontier Nursing Service and founder Mary Breckenridge, a healthcare pioneer who established a nursing school and hospital in Leslie County and led nurses and midwives to deliver care to homes throughout their mountainous Appalachian region via horseback. The annual Mary Breckenridge Festival celebrates this history and features music, pageants, a parade, food and craft vendors and more.
Recently, several Leslie County residents have started producing their own TV show, Our Mountains Television, to broadcast positive stories about Appalachia. The show features music, cooking, storytelling and more. Here are two sample videos in which Rhonda Brashear shares a recipe for Scalloped Tomatoes and Dean Osborne performs Shady Grove with Scott Napier.
Students at Leslie County High School worked with visiting artist Alfredo Escobar to design and paint a mural to celebrate county assets such as bluegrass music and wildlife. They also worked with visiting artist Jennifer Rose Escobar and their music teacher Tara Brown to write and record an original song about their county. Click here to view and listen to their work.