Officials: Sorghum Festival successful in West Liberty

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WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WYMT) - It is the 42nd annual festival, but folks in Morgan County were afraid it might not happen after the March EF3 tornado.

People in Morgan County said a little bit of rain is not going to keep them from coming out for a yearly tradition.

“If we can endure a tornado, a little rain ain't going to bother us at all,” said Nate Lewis, a Morgan County Native who said he attended the festival every year.

The event celebrates the export which is widely produced in the county. The usual mule and cane display was out for all to see at the event. Sorghum is made from cane and experts said it has to be cooked at 235 degrees to get rid of all the impurities.

Locals said the sounds, sights and tastes of Morgan County come together at the Sorghum Festival.

“This festival really shows the great sense of community that West Liberty, Morgan County and all the surrounding counties, really, they all have such a sense of community,” said Ashley Hampton, a Morgan County native who had a sewing booth set up at the festival.

Hampton and others were afraid it would not take place this year after the tornado outbreak.

“When the tornado first hit, of course, the Sorghum Festival was not the first thing on our minds, we were all worried about our family members that lived close by,” said Hampton.

Danny Gevedon, a crafter at the fair, said he was amazed the booths and entertainment were able to be set up in their normal spot.

“On march 3rd right where we are standing, debris was probably waist deep,” said Gevedon, an Ezel native.

Lewis said he interviewed several of the crafters and vendors for a documentary, “Path of Prevalence,” he and others were working on. He said he was told little by little, the people and the vendors made it happen.

“Our Sorghum Festival committee was letting them know that we are going to continue doing the Sorghum Festival just like we always had,” said Lewis.

Hampton said the quickness to come back showed the strength of the people.

“We saw that a lot after the tornado not only with the local citizens coming in to work but with lots of people coming in to help, we have a strong sense of community in all of eastern Kentucky,” said Hampton.

Many said they came to visit family during the festival and they wanted to come this year because they thought it would be bigger than ever.

“This year is important because of the tornado and we wanted to come see what it was like and my uncle lost his home here and has since rebuilt and we just love coming here to the Sorghum Festival,” said Diane Rock, of Williamsburg, Va.

Rock said she came to visit her mother, Patsy, and other relatives in West Liberty and has not yet missed the September tradition.

Morgan Countians said they will continue to rise from the rubble.

“We have come a long way and we have got everything cleaned up, instead of surviving, we are thriving,” said Gevedon.

Morgan County Judge Executive said there were 30,000 people who came to the festival on Saturday alone.