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Bobby Joe Walters as contestant in Womanless Beauty Pageant, 1999
Bobby Joe Walters as a contestant in the Womanless Beauty Pageant, 1999.

Corydon Happy Days Festival

The Corydon Happy Days Festival takes place in Crawford Park, a four-acre site once owned by the Corydon, Kentucky, pioneering family, the Crawfords. Site of Corydon baseball games and the Fourth of July Horse Show and Barbecue for many years, the land was deeded to the city in the early 1990s and transformed into a park through the efforts of many volunteers and donated equipment. They planted trees and built a walking trail, but needed additional funds to finish their work. The idea of an annual festival to raise funds originated with a barbecue hosted by Chuck Collins, a local citizen, for the entire town. Observing the success of Mr. Collins' party, residents indicated in a survey that they were overwhelmingly in favor of an annual festival.

A plan was drafted, and later a committee was appointed to take on the responsibility for coordinating the festival, which was to be called "Happy Days," in honor of Corydon native, Kentucky governor, and Baseball Commissioner Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler. The first festival broke even, but each succeeding year has attracted larger and larger crowds, and now makes a modest profit. The third Festival's proceeds allowed a $1000 check to be turned over to the Corydon Recreation Commission for improvement of the park. Subsequent festivals have provided funds to construct a new softball diamond and additional parking spaces.

The weekend festival begins Friday with the Ohio Valley Bank Open House, where attendees are invited to enjoy hotdogs, popcorn and soft drinks. On Saturday morning, the Masonic Lodge prepares a pancake and sausage breakfast which attracts not only local citizens but many local and state politicians. A parade follows featuring antique cars, mules and wagons, fully equipped fire trucks and emergency vehicles, decorated floats, and high school bands. Other weekend activities include the presentation of a Distinguished Citizen Award by the mayor, performances by a variety of musical ensembles, a Teen Pageant, basketball games, horseshoe pitch, pumpkin-decorating contest, auction, chili cook-off and a Homemakers Contest where embroidery, quilting, crocheting, knitting and homemade bread are displayed. The famous Womanless Beauty Contest features men in drag, decked out in beautiful women's dresses. Befitting its name, each year the Corydon Happy Days Festival succeeds in its objective in sharing happiness among the Corydon citizenry.

Project documentation includes a map, deeds of transfer for the land comprising the original Crawford plot, Crawfield Field Layout, Phases 1 - 5, a biography of "Happy" Chandler, newspaper articles, flyers, pageant programs and prize donations, thirty 8 x 10 color photographs with accompanying descriptions, and two videotapes of the Corydon Happy Days Teen Pageant.

Originally submitted by: Ed Whitfield, Representative (1st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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