History of Van Lear celebrated

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VAN LEAR, Ky. (WYMT) - Day two of Van Lear Days took place on Saturday in Johnson County.

There are games, competitions, familiar faces, and good food...but most importantly folks say they come for the history and the music.

Wayne Wells says, "Music is a big thing around here, of course we have Loretta Lynn who lived here and Crystal Gayle."

28 years ago when the festival started, it started as small music show. 65-year-old, Roger Wells, was at the first Van Lear Days. "It is about triple what it used to be. They have all kinds of things going on now," explains Wells.

Coal Miners' Museum Director Tina Webb says, "Hopefully we are going to grow even more, especially with the music shows...we are getting more and more people involved."

People like Loretta Lynn's granddaughter, Tayla Lynn, who says she is excited represent the family at this year's festival and perform in the place where her roots are.

Lynn says, "We are going to sing some country music and we are going to sing some of memaw's stuff, I am going to sing about 5 of her songs."

Keeping the history alive which is common in the small town of Van Lear...especially within the Coal Miners' Museum, allowing folks to remember simpler times, but certainly not easier times.

Wells says, "Well we all grew up the exactly the same. Everybody was poor...but we didn't know we was poor."

By coming out to Van Lear Days, folks not only celebrate their town but they also support the museum which perserves their history. The museum is managed and operated by all volunteers.

Lynn visited the museum for the first time on Saturday. "The museum is awesome, I want to figure out how we can get more stuff up here. Tina and Van Lear has done such a great job getting all that stuff together."

The festival allows old friends to reunite. Wells says, "People get to come back each year. You see people haven't seen in years, I saw people yesterday I hadn't seen since 1967 when I graduated from here."

As they reminisce on their past, and plan for their future. Wayne Wells says, "I'd like to see this place really boom again, that's what I would like to see."

All while keeping the rich history of this small coal mining town alive and singing.

ORIGINAL STORY 8/2/13: Van Lear Days underway, many visit Loretta Lynn's homeplace

Festival season is well underway in the mountains with several going on this weekend. One of those events is the annual Van Lear Days in Johnson County.

One of the big attractions is the home of country superstar, Loretta Lynn.

People from across the country visit Johnson County every year hoping to see 'Butcher Holler', the homeplace of the queen of country music.

Phyllis Collins is visiting from Arizona and says, "I have always heard of 'Butcher Holler' and of course Loretta Lynn...and well my favorite songs is 'Coal Miner's daughter'."

The coal miner's daughter was raised at 'Butcher Holler' with her seven siblings including, Crystal Gayle, Loretta's sister who also made a name for herself in country music. That is why fans flock to the little cabin nestled in the hills of Van Lear.

Loretta's great nephew, Ted McCoart helps is grandfather (Loretta's brother), Herman Webb, take care of the homplace and conduct tours.

"Visitors hear a lot of stories from her time here. About 90% of the furniture is the original stuff, also a lot of pictures taken through the years are displayed," says McCoart.

Many folks say the reason 'Butcher Holler' attracts so many visitors is because the story of Loretta Lynn is one that is passed down from generation to generation.

Danielle Corley explains, "I am a fan through my mom. I remember growing up, mom would always have her records playing...we really enjoyed that!"

It is a story that many say they can relate to. "I just feel like I have something in common with her, I grew up poor and sort of common, just like she did."

A coal miner's daughter who grew up to be the queen of country music, but never forgot where she came from.

Corley says, "What she came from, to what she became and she didn't change." Thorn adds, "and that's the amazing thing, shes still just....Loretta."

Family members that take care of the homeplace and conduct tours say just as Loretta has stayed the same, so will the cabin in 'Butcher Holler', as they showcase a little piece of Eastern Kentucky history.

Several other activities are planned for Van Lear Days, including a performance by Loretta's granddaughter, Tayla Lynn.

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