Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 23, 2013

Blue skies, fall weather for Poage Landing Days finale

Church, skateboarding and bluegrass close out 2013 festival

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Despite the distant rumble of thunder, Poage Landing Days 2013 finished up under blue skies with an autumn breeze in downtown Ashland Sunday.

Visiting slalom-skateboard racers were up with the sun, grooming a long downhill stretch of Ramey Street known as “The Mule Farm” which has earned Ashland and the annual Southern Fried Cone Fest the respect of competitors across the nation, according to organizer and skater Lenny Poage. After a rough start the day before thatinclude repeated rain delays as well as trouble with timing equipment, Poage said local volunteers and visiting skateboarders alike pitched in to complete one of the smoothest setups ever on Sunday.

“It was kind of like the perfect storm,” Poage said, shaking his head and chuckling before noting the evening’s rides along 17th Street had to be called to an abrupt end after  a sunset dew coated the launch ramps at the traffic signal on Winchester Avenue.

Sunday’s twin course along Ramey Street offers competitors “one and a half to two times the speed,” Poage said, and has drawn comparisons to the grand championship downhill slope in Houston.

“We affectionately call it ‘The Mule Farm’ because it hauls a__,” he said with a laugh.

Juggling the tasks of an organizer with the ambitions of a contestant, Poage said 2013 was not his year for record times.

“Oh, last night was not good. I ended up disqualifying twice,” he said.

With a soundtrack fueled by songs from the band Devo, Poage said each of the skaters representing states including Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, “of course Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio,” who were joined by competitors from Canada and England, reported this year’s Ashland race was an excellent experience, with a great afterparty following Saturday’s runs.

“There are a couple of guys in the crew who are the biggest Devo fans in the world,” he said as the song “Through Being Cool” made another visit to the scene.

The first cone in each lane was overturned and dubbed “The Wes Tucker Cone,” in honor of a valued member of the slalom community who passed away during the last year, Poage explained.

“I can’t remember what race it was at, but he kept knocking down the first cone so people started calling it the Wes Tucker cone,” Poage said, noting Tucker had a strong sense of humor and would likely appreciate the memorial gesture.

The festival action began with a community church meeting on the main stage, followed by music on both downtown stages from Steve Free, Allison Cornwell with David Freeman, Tyler Booth, Songs From The Herat, Christ Temple Brotherhood Choir, Nancy Banfield, Stephen Salyers, and New Tyme leading up to the finale by the increasingly popular bluegrass combo known as The SteelDrivers.

Backed by purely acoustic instruments and driving harmonies, the band entertained an audience which claimed every available chair and spot along the sidewalk, at one point inspiring Don and Evalena Horton of Sandy Hook to add to the entertainment with their honky-tonk style dance steps.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.