• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

36th annual Hillbilly Daze set for Saturday

RICK CAUDLE used an old oak burgoo paddle to stir the Kentucky favorite in a kettle that belonged to his great-uncle, Frank Wells, at last year's Hillbilly Daze. "It's 100 years old if it's a day," said Caudle, who'd begun making the burgoo the day before. (Photo by John McGary)

Hillbilly Daze returns to Millville Saturday, Sept. 10 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and organizers say there'll be more music, more activities for kids - and plenty of Rick Caudle's famous burgoo. For 36 years, residents of the tiny community off McCracken Pike have welcomed hundreds of visitors to the festival, which doubles as a fundraiser for the Millville Community Center. John Watts, who's been on the festival board for the last 15 years, said he again expects between 600 and 1,000 people to attend. "We usually at some time or another - seems like we have about the same number of people that come - it's how long they stay. A lot of it depends on the weather ." Watts said. Last year's Hillbilly Daze raised about $1,500 for the community center, which used to be Millville Elementary School. "The building is in good shape, but this fundraiser goes towards our maintenance and utilities, for the most part, so our function here is to provide the building as a service for the community, and all the money goes to try to keep the roof on," Watts said. New, free offerings for children this year include giant Jenga games, plenty of hula hoops and a different set of bouncy houses. Hillbilly Daze begins at 8 a.m. with a vendor fair and the start of a silent action. At 9:30 a.m., tractors and other vehicles, many colorfully decorated, will line up at Millville Christian Church for a parade down McCracken Pike, which begins at 10 a.m. The car cruise-in, featuring antiques and unusual vehicles, begins at 11 a.m. By that time, Caudle's burgoo, which he'll have begun making the night before and which lures plenty of non-hillbillies to the festival, will be ready. "Every year he has a big pot of burgoo that's a big draw. We call it Rick's Famous Millville Burgoo," Watts said. "It's just become a tradition." (Warning: Some years, it's gone before 1 p.m.) A variety of children's pageants begin at 1 p.m. (with an entry fee of $10) under the pavilion, capped off by the best-dressed Hillbilly (with no entry fee) and will likely still be underway when the annual corn hole tourney begins at 2 p.m. Live music from at least four bands, including Phat Mattress and the Joe Watts Duo, begins at noon, while the silent auction and vendor fair wrap up at 3 p.m. Corn bread and bean soup combos will go on sale at 4 p.m. "We try to make it a family day where people can just come and bring a lawn chair, and if they want to sit by (Glenn's Creek) they can still take in everything that's going on and let the kids run without a whole lot of supervision," Watts said. "It's become kind of an iconic, small community festival." Last year, as he filled cups of his burgoo for hungry attendees while stirring the old kettle to keep the vegetables from sinking to the bottom and burning, Caudle summed up the appeal of Hillbilly Daze. "This is old home week right here. Just friends and family getting together and having a good time," he said.

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