VICCO — Johnny Cummings embraced the idea of hosting fun events in downtown Vicco long before he became mayor of the town. The Vicco Bash has served as the centerpiece of his vision for nearly a decade. Throughout the majority of the mini festival’s existence, The Vicco Bash was held on, or close to, Independence Day, featuring vendors, on-stage entertainment and a fireworks show, which many people from miles around hailed as one of the best in the area.
This year, Mayor Cummings received the heartbreaking news that key pieces of funding he needed to organize the Bash would not be delivered in time to secure the necessary insurance and permits for shooting fireworks on the originally proposed date of July 2. Cummings was left with only two options; either reschedule the event or cancel the Bash altogether. He decided the celebration should continue. So the Vicco Bash was planned for Sept. 3, during Labor Day weekend.
“We tried to stay positive,” said Cummings, “We thought having it on Labor Day weekend might turn out to be a good thing because there are not as many other events happening then like there is on the Fourth of July.”
The Vicco Bash made its autumn debut Saturday, with an evening that provided plenty of moments Vicco can cherish for years to come. However, the main attraction once again faced obstacles, which were too fierce to tackle, despite the devoted efforts of Mayor Cummings and numerous volunteers. The fireworks show had to be cancelled, and as a result, vendors became harder to attract, as did the general public.
The folks who ventured through Vicco Saturday were granted the opportunity to partake in a few experiences not often offered by a city of only 300 citizens. At 5:00 p.m., cars and motorcycles parked along Main Street as part of The Vicco Bash Cruise-In. Mitch Whitaker from the Letcher County Extension Office took over the stage at 6:00 p.m. to give a fascinating presentation, which showcased some of the wild birds that are native to the mountain region.
Children enjoyed inflatables and free cotton candy on the playground. At 7:00 p.m., some of the kids gathered near the park’s entrance to take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony for Vicco’s brand-new Little Free Library, which was another of Cummings’s ideas to add a little more livelihood to downtown. The Little Free Library is available for both kids and adults to retrieve books they can take home to read and return when they are finished, free of charge. The small structure was designed by volunteers to look like the old Martin’s Department Store, which stood in Vicco for generations.
Food vendors, representing local causes, were present to feed the crowd, while musicians performed on-stage until nightfall. But Mayor Cummings has no doubt that the absence of a fireworks finale drastically hurt the event in terms of crowd turnout and vendor participation.
“We had less money to work with than we’ve had in the past,” Cummings said, “So I really wanted to try and do the best we could with it. We worked hard and really tried to get everything we needed for the fireworks, but when it started getting close to time for the event and we still didn’t have our permit, I figured it would be best to go ahead and cancel the fireworks so we would have time to let people know.”
One of the biggest issues with the fireworks show was insurance. Since the budget for the festival was so tightly stretched, Cummings needed to find the most affordable quote possible. In previous years, enough money was available to cover the cost. But with the recent decrease in funding, most providers were too expensive for the event’s budget to handle. When a feasible quote finally came through, there were doubts as to whether or not the permit for the fireworks display could be processed in time to make a Sept. 3 show legal. Cummings did not want to risk disappointing the crowd by promoting an attraction that could possibly get yanked from the lineup. Thus, for the second time this year, Cummings had no choice other than to call-off the fireworks show that he created and built into something spectacular. But, according to Cummings, the cancellation of the fireworks does not signal an end to event planning in Vicco.
“We’re going to keep at it,” said Mayor Cummings, “Really, it’s all about doing some things people can enjoy.”
People will not have to wait long to enjoy the next round of festivities in Vicco. A Halloween themed October event is already in development. For more information, visit the City of Vicco on Facebook; facebook.com/ViccoKY.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.