Since 1970, the Annual Sorghum Festival in West Liberty, KY, has been educating and entertaining untold thousands of people from around the world. The Kentucky Sorghum Festival is held during the last full weekend of September and upwards of 50,000 visitors get to experience the wide variety of folk art and crafts that reflect the Appalachian culture.
In addition, there are many food and sundry items for sale, a parade and other activities that help make the festival a unique and fascinating experience for visitors. In the township of West Liberty, KY, the sorghum festival is well known for the “Old Mill”, which is a horse-drawn sorghum mill which is certainly part of the inspiration for the annual festivities.
The theme of the Kentucky Sorghum Festival centers on the 19th century as reflected by many items for sale as well as the dress and demeanor of many of the participants. Even the local businesses participate by setting up storefronts in the theme of the 19th century as well. The sorghum festival is a celebration of the harvest season and features much of the rich, diverse culture in the area. Since the West Liberty area is home to the largest concentration of Amish and Mennonites in the US, many of them can be seen wearing their 19th century attire around the town during the festival. The sight of so many Amish and Mennonites adds to the atmosphere of the overall event.
The entire downtown area of West Liberty is cordoned off around Main Street to accommodate all the art and craft booths under a large pavilion tent while the activities and other events take place in the general area. The emphasis on local arts and crafts is demonstrated by only having hand made items being featured inside the tent.
Along Route 519, a large number of vendors and yard sales dot the road that runs from Cave Run Lake to the flea market located in the city of Index, KY. There are a wide variety of items that are sold ranging from antiques, furniture, tools, knives and collectibles to items that are homemade as well. Also along this route you can find many different food items for sale, reflecting the same 19th century spirit that dominates the festival.
The parade is one of several highlights of the Kentucky Sorghum Festival, taking place at noon on Saturday. In the parade are the many floats, classic cars, horses and other modes of convenience that are presented by many of the local organizations, schools and churches in the area. Another highlight is the many different musical acts that play during both days of the festival, including rock, country and bluegrass featured on separate stages. Even the local high school schedules their annual Homecoming during the festival which is known as the Sorghum Bowl.
The Civil War also played a major role in shaping the town of West Liberty and that is featured as well with an annual Civil War reenactment with events that take place on both Saturday and Sunday. In addition, there is a campsite featuring both Union and Confederate soldiers for the public to view as well.
Since 1970, the Sorghum Festival in West Liberty, KY, has been a remarkable celebration of the culture and spirit of the 19th century while being an entertaining and educational experience for thousands of people from around the world.
The 45th Annual Sorghum Festival of West Liberty, KY, (2014) dates are September 25-27, 2015.
For more information, see: Morgan County Sorghum Festival