With COVID-19 precautions quelling the annual Summerfest and other regular public activities at Campbells Creek’s Ken Ellis Memorial Park (aka Point Lick Park) throughout most of 2020, an area group is endeavoring to salvage the winter of coronavirus discontent with a pair of online holiday concerts this weekend.
The Ken Ellis Memorial Park Virtual Festival will be streamed over the group’s Facebook page via Facebook Live on Friday and Saturday evenings.
On Friday, Dec. 18, the virtual festival will feature Southern Gospel Night. Performers will include The Rochesters, The Point Lick Gospel Tabernacle, and The Pickers’ Christmas.
Country Night will be the theme of the concert on Saturday, Dec. 19. The Fort Hillbillies, The Bistro Brothers, and Tommy Cate Christmas will headline the program.
Both virtual concerts will begin at 7 p.m. on the Ken Ellis Memorial Park & Campbells Creek Summerfest Facebook page (@celebratecampbellscreek).
“Basically, every year at the park, we put on a festival, and, of course, in 2020, with COVID-19, we didn’t feel safe doing it at the time,” Ken Ellis Memorial Park President Joe Cook said. “I’m not sure if we had restrictions in August, but we didn’t want to put anybody in jeopardy and we canceled it.
“By October, the governor’s restrictions had been made,” he said. “But we wanted to have something for the folks who frequent our park and come to our festival. We thought this virtual festival would be kind of a way to have a little bit of normalcy among the craziness of 2020.”
In previous years, the park had hosted Southern Gospel performances on Fridays and country music nights on Saturdays, so the virtual route seemed an appropriate one to take, Cook said.
“We reached out to The Rochesters, who are a national group that travels all across the country, and, sure enough, they were interested in doing it. That worked out really well for us,” he said.
“The Point Lick Gospel Tabernacle is a church right around the corner from the Park,” Cook said, “and they’ve put together a video type of thing of some of their folks. They’ve been real instrumental with the park over the years, helping us financially and hands-on to fix things. It was a blessing being able have them step up and help us with this.”
The Pickers are affiliated with Point Lick Gospel Tabernacle and will present Christmas music in their bluegrass style, he added.
On Country Night Saturday, The Charleston-based Bistro Brothers and Fort Hillbillies will be joined by Kentucky musician Tommy Cate.
“Tommy Cate will be doing Christmas music,” Cook said. “I know him through work. Every year, he plays Santa Claus, and, of course, this year, not as many people need a Santa Claus since kids can’t sit on his lap. He’ll be doing his part of the concert from a train station in Kentucky.”
The two-day live stream, Cook said, is “something we wanted to do to be able to give back. In between the segments, we’ll probably talk about the park and ask some folks to come out and help us next year. There are so many ways can help a park like that.
“We found out, while the whole world was on lockdown, really one thing that was talked about in articles and in the news was how these greenspaces like community parks like ours were significant in helping people cope with the coronavirus. We saw a huge uptick in the number of folks coming out, playing on playground. We had two memorial services at our park. A really unique thing this year was having folks come out for their high school senior pictures. Photographers came out and took holiday pictures in November, and this month a lady came from Myrtle Beach to take some pictures at our park,” he said.
“2020 has been a blessing to us; a lot of people have been giving and helping us,” Cook said. “We’re really thankful for that and looking forward to getting people to come out to the park and join us to make it as beautiful and safe a place as we possibly can.”