Whitley County Arts and Culture
Whitley County boasts a wide variety of attractions including Cumberland Falls, a railroad museum, a motor speedway and frequent family-friendly Main Street events like Corbin’s Moonbow Nights and Williamsburg’s Old Fashioned Block Parties which both feature food, music, dancing and more for tourists and locals alike. The county is home to an annual pow-wow each Labor Day weekend and headquarters to the Kentucky Native American Heritage Museum’s multi-state mobile outreach. Corbin also hosts the annual NIBROC music festival which draws visitors from throughout the region.
Whitley County has an active arts community that includes local businesses such as the new Mountain Arts Gallery and the longstanding Gibson’s Music and Gail Frederick School of Dance & Gymnastics, as well as organizations like the Corbin Arts and Literary League and a Community Art Center in Williamsburg. The Community Art Center features gallery exhibits as well as hands-on arts programming for youth and adults and, notably, is run by a Fine Arts Extension Agent from the University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service. As one of three Fine Arts Extensions in the state, this reflects a strong county commitment to the arts and unique route for rural community development efforts. (Click here to learn more.)
One can experience culinary arts, farm-to-table community initiatives, live music and generally creative spaces at the local farmer’s markets, restaurants like the Wrigley Taproom and Eatery and other shops such as You and Me Coffee and Tea.
Local residents speak proudly of the Whitley County High School arts programs and with good cause. The school has an award winning drama troupe, a rock band, a well-recognized professional artist teaching visual arts (and painting murals in the hallways), a public radio station, an amphitheater and more! You can learn more about these programs in the Youth Lens section below.
Community members are also working to restore a latent arts asset: the Lane Theater in downtown Williamsburg which has been closed since the 1980’s. The Williamsburg Action Team is currently raising funds to restore the theater with hopes of hosting movies, plays other community events.
Here you can watch student-produced videos about the drama program’s production of Digging Up the Boys (a play by Laura Lundergrin Smith about a mine collapse), the music program’s Rock Band and WCHS art teacher Wayne Hensley.
Click here to view photography and listen to a poem by a Whitley County High School Student. Her poem is modeled after “Where I’m From,” a well-known poem by Kentucky poet George Ella Lyon and was written with support from visiting artist Judy Sizemore.