Looking out over a food court filled with people while models hit the runway strutting to the beat of a smoking-hot band under the lights on a nearby stage, the manager of Kyova Mall could only smile as the shopping center’s first Oktoberfest rolled on Saturday.
The day began with pancakes for a cause, as the staff of Callihan’s American Pub & Grill volunteered their time, and donated their own tips, to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Ron and Abbie Naumann of Ashland were among the last to take advantage of the benefit short stacks Saturday, along with father and daughter Jack and Corrie Dingess of Ashland. Restaurant owner Tal Callihan said breast cancer research is something he is proud to support.
“I’ve been touched by it in my family and have several friends who’ve been through it ... friends I met out here,” he said. “We’ve done a couple of pancake breakfasts already this month. We may do biscuits and gravy and sausage for one — we may get a better response to that than pancakes!”
With cold air blowing a misty rain throughout the region by lunch, the crowd at the mall was slim for a while and organizers skipped a scheduled songwriter’s session as well as a dog show. There were a few dogs available, however, with AARF volunteers selling new-design shirts and promoting their cause on behalf of canines. As visitors learned more about the organization, they had a chance to meet Abby, as handled by Trayton Long; Buckaroo in the arms of Nikki Johnson; Baby Blair with Missy Elliott as well as Willis and his friend Tony Hart.
Fitness instructor Pam Carter of Get Fit With Pam may have been the first to get a workout with the sound system from the stage, leading an impressive troupe of followers through a Zumba regimen which left even bystanders working to catch their breath.
Equipped with banjo, guitar, mandolin and plenty of vocal strength, a band of musicians who weren’t quite sure what to call themselves worried about a hospitalized bassist. With Tom Timberlake on bass, guitar and vocals; Don Schug on banjo; Ed Blankenship on mandolin, guitar and vocals and Robin Tackett-Blankenship on guitar and vocals.
“It’s been a long time since I picked over here in Kentucky ... about 35 years,” Tackett-Blankenship said before introducing her husband for a turn at lead vocals on “Lonesome Pine.” The singer later dedicated a song to her sister, explaining they used to sing together often before health issues pulled her sibling from the stage.
With the full-tilt energy of a rock band backed by a monster horn section, members of City Heat pumped out a soundtrack for a group of more than 50 models participating in a fashion show sponsored by mall stores Wilma’s and Aaliyah’s.
“We had models of all ages —from six to 91,” said Wilma’s fashion/public relations director Drew Scott, who added his appreciation for the success of the Oktoberfest event. “I’m very pleased with the turnout for the first Oktoberfest at the mall. “
The band City Heat, often fronted by singer “Sweetness,” provided a wide selection of music ranging from classic R&B and dance music to Journey’s “Open Arms” and “Any Way You Want It,” and the BTO rocker “Takin’ Care of Business,” with vocals by drummer Mark Wills.
Music on the mall stage continued into the evening with performances by Don Pedigo, Dustin Burchett with Southern Sound, George Molton and Stephen Salyers gearing up the audience for headliner David Lee Murphy. A singer and songwriter who is perhaps best known for his songs “Party Crowd” and “Dust on the Bottle,” Murphy performed his set with only an acoustic guitar, singing and playing songs he is known for as well as tunes he wrote which were made famous by other artists.
Gospel musician Ellen Keaton will provide the final Oktoberfest performance at Kyova Mall from 2 to 4 p.m. today (Sunday). Oktoberfest also features vendors, inflatables, carnival entertainment and sales events at mall stores. For more information, call Nickie Smith at (606) 232-0716.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.