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200 years: Bloomfield celebrates ‘small town’ living

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By Kacie Goode

The clouds rolled out Saturday morning and the crowd began rolling in as good weather blessed Bloomfield during its bicentennial celebration.

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The city, incorporated in 1819, marked 200 years with open houses, historic displays, a city scavenger hunt, war re-enactors, food trucks and more.

As the day got started, 11-year-old Alaina Miller was walking around with her grandmother and stopped by the information booth on Depot Street.

“Bloomfield, it’s my home,” Alaina said. “I’ve been in almost every building from the meeting hall to the funeral home.”

But she came out to Saturday’s celebration hoping to learn even more about the town’s history.

“It’s more than just a place, it’s a type of people,” the sixth-grader said, when asked to describe the city in which she lives. “In big cities, you’re going to see a bunch of people complaining and arguing, but you don’t see that in Bloomfield. It’s a small, happy town.”

Alaina wasn’t the only one intrigued by the “smallness” of Bloomfield. The city’s size and close-knit community also attracted Chris Dudgeon, who is in his first year as serving as the town’s mayor and moved to the area about three years ago.

Dudgeon was wandering around Saturday’s celebration with his wife, Ashley, and their baby daughter, Saylor Blue, who was drawn to a pink tractor on display by the firehouse.

“So many people around here have lived here for years and years,” Dudgeon said. “Everybody knows everybody” and they are friendly.

His wife grew up in the area, he said, and they wanted to move back because of that friendly family atmosphere.

“We wanted to raise our daughter in a community like this, so that she could grow up the same way my wife did,” he said.

A few hours after the city’s official celebration kicked off, Dudgeon made his way over to Bloomfield Baptist Church to provide the opening comments for An Afternoon with the Past. The event, hosted by Myrt Crume, has been held in the city for several years, and was scheduled this year to coincide with the anniversary celebration. The event invited those 75-years and older who had lived in, taught in or attended school in Bloomfield to gather together and reminisce.

“Seeing all the memories, the pictures, the people,” it’s amazing, Dudgeon said, speaking to the crowd. “We’ve got teachers in the room, we’ve got athletes, farmers, business owners. … It’s nice to see everything you’ve put into this community. As we celebrate 200 years today, each and every one of you has been a part of that.”

Among those to attend An Afternoon with the Past was Bill Keeling, whom many recognized as the ballplayer who helped get the local high school to the state basketball tournament in 1962 after winning the regional championship.

“That was a long time ago,” Keeling said, when asked about the game. “It was one day of my life, but it was a lot of fun, that’s for sure.”

Keeling said even though he moved away when he was 18, Bloomfield was and will always be his home.

“When you think about wonderful people and really look forward to seeing those people, that’s what you think of,” he said. “When you think about home, Bloomfield is home. It’s a very calming, wonderful place to be with a lot of wonderful people.”

Shortly after his visit at the church, Keeling, his son, Brent, and his grandkids went down the block where they stopped by the Bloomfield High School Alumni Museum. Inside were treasures from Keeling’s high school days, including trophies, uniforms, photographs, article clippings, certificates and even a video.

“I call it Bloomfield’s little secret,” said Betty Adam, who was speaking with museum visitors Saturday. Adam is also an alumna of the high school, and said BHS was a huge part of the community when it was open, and was like one big family.

Several alumni came together years ago to create the museum, located inside the Wilson & Muir bank branch. The room features a floor that resembles the school gym, a painting of the high school’s former Indians mascot on one of the walls and a basketball goal and ball, among numerous other memorabilia.

The hidden gem gets a few visitors every now and then, but saw a lot of traffic during Saturday’s citywide celebration.

While event goers such as Keeling were reminiscing about school days and sports, down on Perry Street, Terry Broaddus and Gary Tichenor were talking about tobacco.

“They used to have a parade and things every year, celebrating tobacco,” Tichenor said of Bloomfield, referencing the annual tobacco festival.

The crop played an important role not only in Bloomfield, but in the county and state as a whole.

“On any farm, every farm in Nelson County, tobacco was important,” Tichenor said.

“It sent a lot of kids to school,” Broaddus added. “I’m one of them,” and his family is still involved in farming the crop.

Tobacco was how many families put food on the table and how a lot of teens, such as Tichenor, would earn their spending money.

Today, tobacco still has a presence, but in a different way, Tichenor said.

“Every farm don’t have it anymore,” he said. Instead of several family farms raising a few acres of the crop, one farm might raise 100 acres or more.

The tobacco display drew a lot of attention throughout the afternoon, and was included in the city’s scavenger hunt, which challenged guests to find information such as the name of the city’s founder, dates certain buildings were built, quotes, street names, and other information.

“People loved that. That was one of the main things that got people to go to each station” and learn, said Brent Long.

Long helped organize the celebration, and deemed the day a success, noting a “tremendous turnout,” nice weather and a lot of interest in displays.

“It was a great event and we are really pleased with what we got,” he said. “All the businesses in town were open and, honestly, it was just a great time. I had a lot of positive feedback from it.”

Additional information on Bloomfield’s history can be found in the Friday, June 7, 2019, edition of the Kentucky Standard or on kystandard.com under the Special Sections tab.