Carroll County Tobacco Festival

Festival to mark 70th year with appearance by Ronnie McDowell

The event celebrates the county’s
long history in tobacco

Tobacco Festival

• 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27; 5-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28; 9 a.m. - midnight Saturday, Sept. 29, in Carrollton, Ky.
• (502) 525-1583 or (502) 643-7821

CARROLLTON, Ky. (September 2018) – Country music singer Ronnie McDowell has had a long career that began with his tribute song to Elvis Presley, “The King Is Gone.” With this song, released after Elvis’ death in 1977, McDowell began a path to stardom that continues to this day.
His chart toping hit, “The King Is Gone,” has sold more than 5 million copies. McDowell wrote the song, and it took off immediately, gaining airplay on country and pop stations across the country and around the world, making McDowell a household name.
Before he found fame as a singer, he was a young Vietnam Veteran from Portland, Tenn. Soon after the release of “The King Is Gone,” he scored a second hit titled, “I Love You, I Love You, I Love You.”
Between 1979 and 1986, he charted a string of hit singles and albums for the Epic record label. Every single released, with the exception of just one, became a Top 10 hit. Included in the chart toppers were “Older Women” and “You’re Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation.”
Other career hits during his Epic years included “Watchin Girls Go By,” “Personally,” “You Made A Wanted Man Of Me,” “All Tied Up” and “In A New York Minute.”
Throughout his career, McDowell has scored more than 30 Top 10 records. Because of his entertaining abilities, he has been able to draw large crowds. He toured with artists such as Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn before headlining his own shows.

Photo provided

Country music singer Ronnie McDowell is expected to attract a large crowd at the 70th annual Tobacco Festival.

McDowell will headline the 70th annual Carroll County Tobacco Festival on Saturday, Sept. 29. The festival begins on Thursday, Sept. 27, from 5-10 p.m. and runs through Saturday. Hours on Friday are 5-11 p.m. Hours on Saturday are 9 a.m. to midnight. McDowell will close the festival with his performance on Saturday night.
McDowell will also serve as grand marshal of the parade, said Show Director Charlotte Snow. She expects to have between 200-250 floats in the parade, which will have a country and western theme. The festival will feature a flea market with arts and crafts, pageants and bands playing each day. Kissel’s Miracle Midway will provide carnival rides. While it is free to get into the festival, there is a cost for rides and food.
The local band Young Country will open for McDowell between 6:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday. A stage will be set up at the end of Fifth and Main streets, Events will also take place around the Carroll County Courthouse square.
Music will be performed each day of the festival. The Dallas Cole Band will perform from 7-10 p.m. Thursday, The Diamond Back Band will play from 8-11 p.m. Friday.
On Saturday, live music kicks off with the Whiskey Bent Valley Boys from 4-5:30 p.m., followed by Young Country and McDowell. Other entertainment includes the Cowboy Christian Shootout, with shows at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.
There will also be Silent Auction baskets every night and a raffle for a 2019 Polaris 900 S Razor to be given away at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Raffle tickets are $20 each.
Snow said she has been involved in the festival for 16 years. She is part of the all-volunteer committee that “likes doing it for the community.”
About 15,000-17,000 people of all ages attend the festival each year, said Snow. It’s mostly a local crowd, but there are some out-of-towners, including vendors who travel from Tennessee and Florida. “We got calls from Ohio and Alabama, once people heard about Ronnie McDowell coming.”
By touring constantly throughout the years to support each album release, McDowell built a staggering fan base throughout the country that still exists today. He furthered his career by seeking the advice of well established artists such as Conway Twitty.
Twitty became a mentor and very good friend to McDowell. Twitty helped the young singer with advice about touring, recording and most important of all, entertaining the fans. Twitty was a master at entertaining, and McDowell quickly picked up on this.
In 1986, he made the move to his current label, Curb Records. McDowell scored a Top 10 hit with “It’s Only Make Believe,” a duet with Twitty on what was Twitty’s breakthrough hit from 1958.
The duets didn’t stop there. Two years later McDowell teamed up with another music legend, Jerry Lee Lewis, for a rocking duet that McDowell wrote titled, “You’re Never Too Old To Rock N’ Roll.” He recorded another Top 10 hit with his version of the pop standard “Unchained Melody,” which also became a No. 1 country music video.
One of McDowell’s most recent projects is an album of beach music with Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters, titled, “Ronnie McDowell with Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters.” A second project is a new country album titled “Ronnie McDowell Country,” a collection of six new songs written by McDowell. It includes a few country standards by such legendary writers as Buck Owens, Harlan Howard and Dallas Frazier.
McDowell still tours relentlessly with his band. He also tours with Elvis Presley’s original sideman D.J. Fontana and Ray Walker, a longtime member of The Jordanaires, staging a tribute to Presley’s music.
With acts such as McDowell, this year’s Carroll County Tobacco Festival will mark a “big milestone,” said Snow. Its focus has always been on the community and its heritage.

“The community used to be big in tobacco,” she said. Even though tobacco is a dwindling crop, “people in the community want to continue this heritage so it won’t be forgotten.”

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