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History Monday: Big events locally, 1976

By Mike Watson

The year of the Bicentennial of the United States, 1976, was a huge year for our nation and celebrations took place everywhere three people came together. Columbia and Adair County had several events, but one of the noteworthy happenings of that year came at the beginning of November--the opening of Columbia's first franchised fast-food restaurant, Burger Queen!

During the hottest part of the summer in 1976, construction began on the site of a coming phenomenon, at least for our part of the world, a fast-food restaurant, with drive-thru window and all the trimmings. Burger Queen was coming to Columbia. McBY formed to make this happen. Clifton McGaha, Gaylon Yarberry and James Brock formed a corporation that provided Queenie Bee and her burgers to the population, near and far. There was a BQ in Campbellsville, so we were not strangers to the tasty beef morsels and fries, but as of late October-early November we would no longer have to sojourn out of the county to enjoy one or two...or three.

The building went up in July and August and finish work was completed in October with the opening one of the largest events of the year.

A year later, mid-October 1977, the first anniversary of the business brought another huge crowd to the corner of Gaston Avenue and Jamestown Street-highway 55 South. A free bicycle was one of the many give-a-ways of the first anniversary celebration, and hundreds of balloons for the kids, plus literally thousands of free cheeseburgers were provided. Local papers carried a coupon to clip for a free cheeseburger through the last day of the year.

Many young Adair Countians found their first employment at BQ in Columbia, many went on to varied careers in business. Burger Queen eventually morphed in Druther's Restaurant--a lone hold out is still a major food provided at Campbellsville, an oddity of sorts in the burger world, some say. And after Druther's, Dairy Queen occupied the old stand, then other business as well, but we shall always remember BQ and Queenie Bee in Columbia.

Another long-time business was first opened in 1976, the Convenient Food Mart was the first convenience store of the type in our area. Clifford Giles orchestrated the new business which opened in September of the Bicentennial year. Jerry Pyles was manager upon opening. Long a stalwart operation, Convenient was located on Jamestown Streets "at the bottom of the hill", back from the highway, but up-front in the minds of all those who bought gas, snacks, and quick-to-hand groceries here for the many years it was in operation. The site is still occupied, but many will always call it 'the Conventient."

The 'Bicentennial Day' or July 4th, 1976, was a day of more celebration for Adair County as the newly renovated Adair County Courthouse was dedicated. It was a drizzly day, so the dedication ceremony was moved from the Public Square into the second floor court room where Kentucky Senator Joe Prather gave an address after having been introduced by Senator Doug Moseley of Columbia. After the ceremonial opening, refreshments were served and the crowd was invited to view the art exhibits on the first floor which included photographs of the renovation process of the near-ninety year old building and artists' renderings of the structure.

This story was posted on 2020-08-03 08:26:50
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