Magic City Ragtime & Jazz Festival a success

Published 10:44 am Friday, June 28, 2024

There was music in the air all through downtown Middlesboro last weekend as the city hosted the first Magic City Ragtime & Jazz Festival.

From the rambunctious Ragtime of Blair Crimmins & The Hookers on the Levitt AMP stage to the smooth jazz sounds of the Jackson Alley Cats on the Library patio, the Sparks Trio at the Arthur Museum Gardens and the Braden Jones Trio at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Gardens, good music was not hard to find.

Artisans were set up at each location showing off their skills at fiddle making, coopering, Appalachian Agriculture and gourd art. Storyteller Anne Shelby shared  a few of her best yarns from southeastern Kentucky on the Levitt stage and Ann Matheny presented lectures on the early history of Middlesboro and Ben Harney’s time here developing the Ragtime sound.

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Visitors could cool off with refreshments inside the Bell County Historical Society Museum or to view the All That Jazz flower show presented by the Middlesborough Garden Club inside the Arthur Museum.

“I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported and brought this idea to life. Their hard work and dedication truly made all the difference. I am incredibly grateful for their support and commitment,” said Tony Maxwell, who served as the chair of the festival committee.

The fun kicked off on Friday evening with a special dinner sponsored by Hearthside Bank outside of the Historical Society Museum. The Middlesboro Little Theater provided entertainment with Clayton Barker portraying Ben Harney and Amy Simpson portraying his wife, Jessie Haynes.

The fun and music continues throughout the day on Saturday with a kids area providing outside games while all of the entertainment was going on.

Sunday featured a non-denominational gospel music sing along at Levitt Park to wrap up the weekend.

“It’s great to see an idea come to life. This event truly showcases the passion of our community. It’s been inspiring to witness everyone coming together, pooling resources, and unleashing their creativity to build a meaningful celebration of our community and its people,” Maxwell said. “Despite the team feeling tired after the weekend, they reconvened on Tuesday evening to reflect on the event and begin planning for 2025. I’m excited to see what they come up with for next year’s event.”