Fort Boonesborough
Kentucky History Award

Winner of 2 History Awards From the Kentucky Historical Society

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The 2nd Annual Historic Sites and Event Planners Conference was hosted by The Fort Boonesborough Foundation and held at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park

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By Jim Cummings

Blue Licks State Park was the site of this 2nd annual conference held March 5-8, 2008. The conference was hosted by the Fort Boonesborough Foundation. George and Elizabeth Chalfant were on hand from the foundation and made everyone feel welcome.

The idea for the conference was conceived last year by Phil Gray and Bill Farmer at Fort Boonesborough. When first year participants readily agreed they would like to see the conference continue it was decided to move the location each year to encourage more participation. This year’s participants came from Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia and  Kentucky.

Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park was a great location for this second conference, located just south of Maysville in an area abounding with early Kentucky history. (www.battleofbluelicks.org) Holding the conference at a resort park was another plus. Most of the participants stayed on site and the conversations, once begun continued right through meals, after sessions and into the hospitality suite in the evening. Stephanie Gaither, Park Manager and her staff at Blue Licks were outstanding. (And three Huzzahs for the catfish served at the restaurant buffet.)

Phil Gray started off Wednesday afternoon with introductions and a short meeting. It was an open discussion time for participants to share ideas and lasted till dinner time.

Frank Doughman, a NPS Ranger at George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana, put it this way. “This was a much needed, long overdue idea. We all face the same obstacles in event planning. If someone at another event, in another state has already accomplished something that we are still working on, what a great chance to learn about it. I can’t see why any manager or event planner would not want to be here. I intend to advise everyone in our park system to set aside the dates now for 2009.

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Evidentially others felt the same way. Newly appointed director of the Kentucky Department of Parks' 23 recreation parks and 10 historic parks, Mary Dee Miller was in attendance along with Assistant  Director, Brooks Howard.

The ongoing theme among all participants was managing the event. It doesn’t matter whether you have 800 re-enactors and 30,000 people through the gates or host an event with 20 re-enactors and 200 people through the gates the issues remain the same. Things like safety, rain and period correctness never change. Publicizing the event and getting attendance numbers never change.

Thursday morning began bright and early with an 8 AM presentation by Jim & Kathy Cummings on websites for historic sites and a brief look at the Fort Boonesborough award winning teacher information packet.

Special guest Ellen Eslinger, author and history professor talked on 18th century agriculture, citing many examples from her vast research. 

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Above - Kathy & Jim Cummings, Right - Dr. Ellen Eslinger - DePaul University

After a short break Dale Payne, researcher and author took the podium. Payne is a familiar face to re-enactors who have used his books for years in documenting 18th century life. Released this February was his latest book - Frontier Memories III from The Rev. John Dabney Shane Interviews.

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Dale Payne

Lunch and a trip to the newly renovated Pioneer Museum at Blue Licks followed. Paul Tierney, naturalist at the park gave an overview of the museum and the topographical map that helps visitors understand the part that the land played in the 1782 Battle of Blue Licks.

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The final afternoon session was conducted by Frank Doughman of NPS. Doughman is Chief of Interpretation at George Rogers Clark National Historic Park and his program on Interpretive Development was excellent. 

But although that may have been the last formal session - it certainly wasn’t the end of the conversations. They continued on through dinner and finished up in the hospitality suite late Thursday night. Although  a Friday morning discussion session was planned - it was cut short by the advancing snow storm. Conference goers met for breakfast and were soon on their way. Attendees came from The George Rogers Clark Heritage Association in Ohio (Fair at New Boston), Fort Loudoun State Historic Site in Tennessee, Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Assoc in Gate City, VA, Morehead University, Falls of The Ohio State Park, White Hall State Historic Site, Daniel Boone National Forest, Cumberland Gap NPS,  Old Washington, Inc., The Painted Stone Settlers, Inc., and Fort Boonesborough State Park. In addition their were a number of individuals who came for the day on Thursday to hear the guest speakers.

The 2009 Conference is scheduled for March 11-13 at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville, Kentucky. That conference will include trips to nearby Martin’s Station (Ewing, VA and Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. If you would like to be included in the 2009 Conference contact Bill Farmer at Fort Boonesborough.

Links to other Web Sites of Conference Attendees

If you attended the conference and did not receive a link - please contact the webmaster.

The original Fort Boonesborough was built by Daniel Boone and his men in 1775

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