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Big South Fork Celebrating 50th Anniversary All Year Long

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Big South Fork Celebrating 50th Anniversary All Year Long

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Richard Nixon signed the legislation creating the park March 7, 1974, recognizing the area’s history, arches, natural bridges and gorges. Christopher Derman is Chief Of Interpretation And Education at Big South Fork. He said the celebration will be a year-long event of what the park is really all about.

“Now is the time when wildflowers are starting to pop up,” Derman said. “Daffodils are already popping up, and April, May, the wildflowers are in full swing. It’s a real kaleidoscope of colors in the park. And if they want to come out, if visitors want to come out and see the park with beautiful flowers, now is the time to come out in the next couple of months to see all kinds of beautiful flowers in bloom.”

The 125,000 acre park spans from Kentucky through Fentress, Pickett as well as Morgan and South Counties. Derman said the leadership wanted to use the 50th anniversary to attract new visitors as well as those who have not visited in awhile.

“This place is a real destination for visitors who want to participate in a wide variety of recreational activities,” Derman said. “We’re known for such great availability of recreational opportunities and also the scenic gorge and the river that flows through the park itself. If you want to just come out to the park and just enjoy the scenery, you can do that. If you want to come out and do something a little more active, like mountain biking or hunting, you can do that, too.”

Derman said the park staff runs programs relevant to the park including topics like the plants, trees, animals, and the history of the area. He said events that will celebrate the anniversary include the 24th Annual Planting Festival, the annual Haunting in the Hills Storytelling in September, the annual photo contest, and the Go Big Challenge.

“We are really looking to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the park all year long, and not just one day of activities,” Derman said. “And we want to make sure we capture it throughout the course of the year because there are times when we schedule a special event on one particular day and we get terrible weather, and we have a poor turnout as a result of that. And so, to hedge our bets, cover our bases, we decided, well, we’re gonna roll this out over a full year.”

Senator Howard Baker led the movement to form the park in the 1970s, after the idea for creating a dam in the area had been dropped. The legislation to form the park introduced in 1972 with the work of the Big South Fork Coalition.


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