July 3, 2013 — J.D. Rayburn had a dunk tank full of braggadocio.
“Ain’t nobody over here can hit me!” the owner of Scenic Hills Realty screamed as he sat on the plank above the water.
A few minutes later, 13-year-old Graham Stamper of Morehead soaked Rayburn’s raving — a strike on the first pitch. “It was a fastball. I knew he was wrong,” Graham said.
An unrepentant Rayburn countered, “That was a lucky shot!”
Organizers hope Saturday’s Freedom LIFT (Love, Inspiration and Faith Together) homecoming festival at the Depot on Railroad Street — the parade on U.S. 60 and Railroad, the bands, eating contests, food and quilting exhibits — united, at least for a day, the 1,600 or so residents.
Saturday was the sixth LIFT event. The Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce and All Things Ministries, an Olive Hill faith-based agency, were the sponsors.
Event co-organizer Curtis Owens said it’s too soon to know how many attended. “In the past they’ve estimated 3,000, 3,500,” he said. “It seemed (yesterday’s total) what we’ve experienced in the recent past.”
Owens also said there were differences in the parade participants — fewer baseball and softball teams, beauty queens and Shriners members. He was grateful for the mid-80-degree temperatures and no rain.
“There were a lot more floats,” Owens said. “All week long we heard (meterologists) predict rain; it turned out the weather’s great.”
Brenda Porter sent Rayburn into the water again when she ran up and smacked the bullseye with her right hand, the result of some simple, sneaky subterfuge.
“Half the girls wanted me to,” said Porter, who said she’d pay the $1 cost to throw a ball. “I was acting like I was going to ask him a question.”
The reasons people came seemed diverse.
Brenda Blakeney grew up in Olive Hill but now lives in Mize, Miss. Saturday was the first time she’d made it to Carter County in 18 years for the Fourth of July holiday.