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Independence Jam a community affair for Clear Spring

July 04, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

CLEAR SPRING -- It started in 2006 as a way to bring the town together over the July Fourth weekend.

Three years later, Clear Spring's Independence Jam has become an annual event that organizers say gets to the heart of what the holiday is all about.

"A sense of history, a sense of community. That's why we do this. Every community should celebrate July Fourth," said David Wiles, president of the Clear Spring District Historical Association, which puts together the event every year.

The event, held at historic Plumb Grove mansion on Broadfording Road, drew about 2,000 people last year and looked like it would draw at least that many on Thursday.

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By 5:30 p.m., a half-hour after the event began, several hundred people were wandering the mansion grounds, sipping lemonade, eating steamers and chatting with friends.

"It's a nice evening. You've got music, the kids can play, and everyone can just relax for a few hours," said Gloria Embly, one of several people who, by 5 p.m. had positioned their chairs for the fireworks display scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m.

While Embly and others were preparing for the fireworks or eating food cooked by the historical association, children were having their faces painted, tossing footballs and running through an obstacle course.

"We're trying to keep everything old-fashioned," said Sarah Ardinger, one of the event's volunteer coordinators, as she set up the ring toss with two-liter soda bottles. "It's not always possible, but we're trying."

Part of Thursday's event included tours through Plumb Grove, which was stocked with vintage clothing, patriotic postcards and other historic items.

A portrait in the mansion's sitting room depicted Isaac Shelby, who was from Clear Spring and served in the Revolutionary War before going on to become the first governor of Kentucky, Wiles said.

"We've always felt that a community that knows its roots and its neighbors will be a friendlier place to be," Wiles said.

Lisa Poole, director of the historical association, noted that almost all of the event's attendees are from the Clear Spring area.

"It's become an event that really lets us get in touch with each other and see each other," Poole said.

The event has also grown, Poole said, beyond everybody's expectations.

By 5:30 p.m., 30 people were in line for food.

This year the historical association cooked 80 pounds of steamers, 600 hot dogs, 400 chicken sandwiches, 300 ears of corn and 16 pounds of baked beans for the event, said Dotty Drass, co-chair of the event's food committee.

"We've been cooking since this morning," Drass said.

Because the food is either cooked or donated by volunteers, prices are low, Drass said.

"This is a community affair. We're just out here to have fun," Drass said.

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