Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

May 1978 Around Adair by Ed Waggener

The article below first appeared in one of the May 1978 issues of the Daily Statesman. Topics included Founder's Day, Woozles, a Tennessee Sheriff's campaign, and memories of the Mark Twain Festival. --Pen

By Ed Waggener

The world's largest traffic jam?
Thursday, May 4, 1978, may have seen the world's largest traffic jam. For sure, it was the largest crowd seen in Columbia, ever, by those with whom I talked. The jam was alleviated some time late in the day when the police started directing traffic. I thought at first that the jam was caused by visitors to Columbia for Founder's Day at Lindsey Wilson. That did contribute to the congestion, but it later occurred to me that it was check day at the banks. Most of the government checks arrive around the third day of each month. Wednesday, May 3, the banks were closed, which meant that the people receiving government checks had to wait until Thursday. The traffic wasn't all bad. Elaine Bennett, proprietor of a downtown restaurant, reported that Thursday was a record day for her business.

The Woozle speaks
Editorializing on the "Wagner boards" at local restaurants has become a high art. I have heard individuals threatened by telling them that they would be the target of the next Wagner board message. Moreover, everybody is trying to get into the act. At the Burger Queen, Kenny Dyer, known as "The Woozle," has suggested this message: Death is still the number one killer.

This week the Burger Queen Wagner board offered this message, "We honor National Woozle Week."

I have since learned that there are more than one woozle. And that there is more than one Woozle.

Charles Sanders is president of the Woozles. Dyer is vice president. Richard Page is treasurer. And Billy Allen is secretary.

What do Woozles do?

I will tell you.

I don't know.

In bloom, worth seeing...
-Mrs. Cora Young's locust trees on Russell Road. The locust trees' beauty this week rivals that of the dogwoods 10 days ago, and besides, the locust add a sweet bouquet to the air.

The worst hurt
I think I have heard the saddest political story this week. My good friend, Dean Brakebill, was beaten in his bid to be the Democratic nominee for Sheriff of Meigs County, Tennessee.

Moreover, he got dogbit.

"And wouldn't you know," he lamented, "I think it was a Republican dog."

And, he admitted, there was more to regret: "I think I may have been campaigning in Roane County when it happened, to boot!"

Move a-foot to get Hal Holbrook
The Adair County Fine Arts Guild is planning to get internationally famous Hal Holbrook to Columbia for a performance of "Mark Twain Tonight." Negotiations are just beginning, but a Guild spokesman says that tentatively, the Guild hopes to have Holbrook here in the early fall.

Along with the Holbrook appearance, it is hoped that a Mark Twain Festival can be staged.

As I remember it, the original Mark Twain Festival was the brainchild of Fred Troutman, who was a history teacher at Adair County High School back in 1958 and who was later the editor of the Columbia Kentuckian, a weekly newspaper in the early 1960's and who is now with the Public Information office in Frankfort.

I believe that the first year for the festival was in 1958.

I remember that it was quite an event. I saw the parade from a vantage point high in the courthouse clock tower. (At that time, the pigeons were using the courthouse clock tower for a watercloset, and I remember that after I climbed back down I had a vantage point everywhere I went in the crowds, until I got a chance to get home and change clothes.)

According to old accounts, there were over 50 window displays in the event, which lasted from May 7-10.

There was an old fashioned prayer meeting, conducted by Dr. A. H. Phillips, then pastor of the Columbia Baptist Church.

Lindsey Wilson College conducted its May Festival in conjunction with the Mark Twain Festival on two of the four Mark Twain Festival days.

On Saturday, May 10, 1958, Ben Hancock held a muzzle loading rifle contest, and first place winners were R. Hancock, Billy Phelps, Otley Gilpin, Paul Henson, and Ottie Wheeler. Second place winners were Tommy Adkins, Charles Sparks, Paul Bault, and Ben Hancock.

There was a reception at Meadow Hill Inn. (Remember when Walker Florist shared the building with the famous restaurant? That hasn't been so long ago.) Phyllis Hatfield won the Miss Clementine contest held there. Dorothy Brockman was the runner-up.

The parade was held on Saturday afternoon. And it was a grand sight. But many remember the Jumping Frog Contest as the best part. It was claimed that the contest was between a jumping frog of Calaveras County, matched against one from Russell Creek. James Montgomery was the handler of the Adair County frog, which, naturally, won by two inches.

On Saturday night, there was a Mark Twain Pageant at the Fairgrounds, followed by a Square Dance on the Square afterward.

There were other events, the accounts in the Adair County News show, including a fish fry, a sling shot contest, a poster contest (won by Betsy and Benny Burr, followed by Greg Marshall and Wyman Rice) and an essay contest (won by Kay Bault, Robert Renfro, and Travis Paul Scott and by Ann White, Frances Scott, and Joey Glowacki).

All in all, the events, originated by Troutman and coordinated by Troutman and Ray Partin and sponsored by the Columbia Jaycees, was one of the Biggest Shows ever in Columbia.

And it all happened 20 years ago this week.

The Mark Twain events this fall, so far, are not so grandiose. But the way things have a way of expanding in Columbia, who knows?

Mark Twain Heritage Mall is still a name
There is still active, but quiet work going on to build the commercial center on the seven acres between Highway 61 south, and Hudson Street. Kermit Grider, the developer, says that he still plans to use the name "Mark Twain Heritage Mall," when the center is built. The idea for the name came from Mr. and Mrs. Phil Polston, the former owners of the tract. I think it's a good name, and I am happy that Grider wants to keep the Mark Twain name. Columbia has as much or more right to be proud of the Mark Twain heritage as any community in America.

This story was posted on 2020-04-12 09:00:29
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by Linda Waggener and Pen Waggener, PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia Magazine. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.