Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 12

OUR BLUE RIDGE TOWNS

PRESTONSBURG

The Star City of
Eastern Kentucky
One key to a city on the rise: "A lot of really good people
doing really good things."
By JOAN VANNORSDALL

PRESTONSBURG TOURISM

W

hat makes Prestonsburg
shine?
Ask Mayor Les Stapleton to share the story of
Prestonsburg, Kentucky,
and you'll get a short version and a long version.
Short version: "We were definitely a
coal economy. We're not now."
Long version: a three-hour narrated
driving tour that includes the renowned
Mountain Arts Center...hiking, biking
and equine trails...a Civil War battlefield...Jenny Wiley State Park and Amphitheater...an under-construction railsto-trails path running from downtown
to David, former model coal camp fallen
on hard times...a professionally designed
golf course and trails built on a reclaimed

mountaintop removal mining site...a
downtown filling with restaurants and
small shops...a city park complete with
indoor skating rink, pool, playground
and a 1.25-million-Christmas-light display that draws 40,000 cars seasonally...a
state-of-the-art Science Center housing a
40-foot domed planetarium...
It was clear from the beginning that
Prestonsburg's story is book-length, and
worth knowing.
It was a good move to house the Prestonsburg Tourism Office in the Mountain Arts Center (MAC). Home to Billy
Jean Osborne's Kentucky Opry, the MAC
is longstanding proof of Prestonsburg's
music roots. Over the past 23 years, the
1,044-seat auditorium has welcomed
performers like Loretta Lynn, Billy Ray

"I don't look at the past. I look at what's
coming up. We're blending the old with
the new and making it work."
-Les stapLeton, prestonsburg Mayor
12

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

Cyrus, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs and
Chris Stapleton to its stage. With a sophisticated commercial recording studio
and busy music lesson rooms, the MAC
deepens traditional mountain music
roots and looks forward to new generations of musicians on the largest stage
east of the Mississippi.
But it's not only music that MAC celebrates. The vast lobby has an art gallery, a coal mining museum with rotating
exhibits and the Ranier Racing Museum
(where NASCAR fans can visit the famous
Gray Ghost, record-breaking winner of
the 1980 Daytona 500 with Buddy Baker
at the wheel).
But is an impressive arts center enough
to bring new life to a post-coal economy?
Executive Director of Marketing Samantha West comes from a family of coal
miners. 'If someone had told me 10 years
ago that I could come home and make a
living, I'd have said, 'Whaaaaat?'
"When you strip away coal, you're
left with what you have. For us, it's our
mountains and rivers, our history and
entertainment," West says. "It's a process
of re-imagining what can be. How can we
take empty spaces downtown and make
them new? We work to re-imagine that
an empty alleyway can be a place for murals...that our old hardware store could
be a black-box theatre."


http://www.BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 43
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 50
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 58
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 63
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover4
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