Hidden Corners of History - Greenup Old Fashioned Days



Jarrod E. Stephens

The Ashland Beacon


   There are many ways other than the calendar to recognize the official arrival of the fall season. Cool nights, leaves beginning to change colors and of course, Greenup Old Fashion Days. The annual Old Fashion Days celebration has long been a highly anticipated event for the town of Greenup. It attracts thousands of visitors and serves as a homecoming of sorts for many folks who grew up in the area. Living up to its name, the festival brings about a simple, old time feeling to the streets of Greenup, a town with a rich history. 

   After attaining statehood in 1792, Kentucky was largely unsettled with exception to a few areas along the Ohio River where small towns began to appear. Nearly the entire northeastern portion of the state was named Mason County from which Greenup County was derived in 1803, the same year that Lewis and Clark embarked upon their famous journey in search of the Northwest passage. Greenup was named for the third governor of Kentucky, Christopher Greenup.

   Throughout the centuries, Greenup has been an important town in the region and despite the changing times, for 55 years the town has found a way to celebrate the simpler times with an early fall, old time celebration. For three days in October the town becomes a meeting place for friends and a venue for fun that allows the fun of yesteryear to dominate the days. 

   Fall festivals from the olden days displayed food, games and music to satisfy the participants. An event that was quite a draw many years ago is the apple pie contest and each year the apple pie contest at OFD conjures up memories of the good old days as contestant try to wow the judges with the tastiest pie in town. 

   Being a county where the smalltime farmer has always been an integral part, old tractors and machinery dating from the early 20th century are put on display at the Farm Bureau grounds. Listening to the old engines rumble and roar as the farmers show off their rides in the parade and tractor pulls allows the onlooker’s mind to wander back to the good old days when the original horsepower was replaced by the combustible engine. 

   Having been born amidst the era where true muscle cars were common, Greenup Old Fashion Days hosts the annual antique car show on Saturday each year. Chrome, whitewalls, vintage and custom vehicles swarm the area and are put on display. Proud owners swap stories and visitors of all ages have the opportunity to witness the evolution of the modern vehicle. 

   Perhaps the most vivid example of how the OFD traditions have remained the same is the annual costume contest. Visitors of all ages come year after year to display clothing that represents multiple time periods. Civil war era clothing and the traditional “hillbilly” attire make for a great learning experience and some good laughs. 

   Of course, a festival that has survived the test of time like Old Fashion Days has had many people to work behind the scenes to make it happen. One of the cornerstone members of OFD passed away on February 3, 2021, and keeping with tradition, this individual will be honored this year. Mattie Coldiron was an integral part of keeping the annual celebration going and her service will be recognized as her extended family will serve as the Grand Marshal for this year’s parade.  

   In our fast-paced, instant download world where time seems to be scarce, for three days each October the little town of Greenup becomes an epicenter for everything old-fashioned. Thanks to the foresight of residents of the town, the Greenup Old Fashion Days is still going strong and after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, they are hopeful that even more visitors will stop in and take a glimpse of history on display.