Tourist Commission Looks Into Purchasing Main Street Property
Editor’s Note: The photograph caption was edited to include the correct identification for the performer. We regret the error.
The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourism Commission have agreed to sponsor an event at Old Fort Harrod State Park that will honor and celebrate Native American heritage in 2023. The tourist commission agreed to sponsor this year’s event as well as assist in marketing it.
At their meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, the board of directors heard from Angie Keams. Keams and her husband have produced the Native Dawn Flute Gathering in Lawrenceburg since 2010. The couple, who bought a farm in Mercer County, moved the flute gathering to Old Fort Harrod last year, and were looking for a sponsorship.
“It was a dream of ours,” said Keams. Her husband, Fred Nez-Keams, is a Navajo artist who makes native flutes. Fred Nez-Keams has also been asked to make awards for the Kentucky Arts Council and is one of seven artists invited to contribute to the state visitor’s guide. Angie Keams said the event since 2010 has drawn visitors from Oregon and Michigan and performers from all over the country.
“We love Harrodsburg,” Keams said. “You guys have been so welcoming.”
She said they would like to a bring in a Native American drum group with 10 members. Keams said their educational efforts began in Lawrenceburg when a third grader who happened to live next door to the couple told them a teacher at school had said Native Americans were extinct. She said there are approximately 90,000 people in Kentucky who identify as Native American.
“Our educated people don’t understand that there are still native people, so how do we expect anyone else to understand?” Keams said.
She said the event will begin with a Native American color guard. They would like to bring in musicians from all the tribes in Kentucky for a free two day event on Memorial Day weekend— Saturday, May 27, 2023, and Sunday, May 28, 2023.
“We hope to educate, we hope to share and give back,” Keams said. She said they were hoping to be able to offer two nights accommodations for performers.
Board member Bob Gigliotti asked about printed program. Keams said in the seven years they held the event in Lawrenceburg, they never had the funds for printing programs or advertising, She said they relied on word of mouth. While crowds were sparse at first event, when they only had six performers.
“As we grew, we had 21 performers and over 500 people come through,” Keams said.
The couple have worked with the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission on events in Frankfort and Cumberland Falls and did a program at Mercer County Public Library in November as part of Native American Heritage Month.
Board member David Coleman, who is also manager at Old Fort Harrod, said up to 400 people attended the first Native Dawn at Old Fort Harrod over both days with almost no marketing and only had one food truck last year. Keams said they would live to expand food options in 2023.
“You’ve got the recipe for a great event,” Keams said.
“We can help you,” said Tim Kazimer, the chairman of the board of directors, who approved a $6,000 sponsorship for the flute gathering as well as their assistance marketing the event.
“It’s a unique event,” said board member Joan Huffman. “We’re glad you brought it to our community.”
In other business, after an executive session, the board voted to purchase a property on Main Street for an amount not to exceed $65,000.