Somerset's Arts Community Takes Center Stage
Somerset and Pulaski County residents don’t have to go to the Big Apple to enjoy the lights, costumes and sounds of a Broadway show. They don’t have to go to the Smithsonian to enjoy the work of a good artist. They don’t have go to a band’s European tour to enjoy great music and talented musicians. They already have all of the above with everything they need right in Somerset. However, what Somerset has to offer always has the distinctive taste of Kentucky in it.
Kentucky Takes the Stage
Thanks to Lake Cumberland Performing Arts and The Center for Rural Development, quality entertainment is available in Somerset’s own backyard.
The CenterStage season brings national and international touring companies to perform in The Center for Rural Development. The lineup includes everything from Broadway musicals to drama, dance, comedy and classical music.
Noted titles that have performed in Kentucky are the classic The Nutcracker and the crowd-pleaser Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
In addition to theater, the Center hosts a visual art show that showcases local and regional artists. One highly anticipated exhibit that comes to The Center annually is the Kentucky Watercolor Society’s Aqueous Show, a national juried show that travels all over the state. Artists from across the United States enter their paintings, and about 20 are chosen from more than 300 entries.
Sheltowee (pronounced shell-TOW-ee) was founded by a small group of artists in 1994 and named after the area's beautiful and artistically inspiring Sheltowee Trace hiking trail. The organization has since grown to include more than 50 artists. Members create widely varied work, and many of the art forms are Southern or American traditions
Sheltowee Artisans, a community of talented artists, can be seen at three annual, local events—Berea Craft Festival, Master Musician’s Festival, and Sheltowee Artisans Holiday Open House. Artists within the Sheltowee organization each have their own talent with skill in painting, wood-crafting, metal-working, sewing, crocheting, or jewelery-making.
An Exhibit in the Street
A car show without the competition is perhaps the best way to describe the Somernites Cruise in downtown Somerset. The family-oriented cruise is a way for antique and show car enthusiasts to get together and have some good clean fun. On the fourth Saturday of each month from April through October, cars line the streets for the all-day affair – which usually begins with a fun run through the streets of Somerset, followed by some “show, shine and relax” time and ends in a late-night cruise down Hwy 27.
On weekends you can hear engines roar and see the thick clay dirt flying. Burnside’s Lake Cumberland Speedway features stock car racing on a 3/8-mile dirt oval track every Saturday night from spring to fall. In addition to regularly scheduled Saturday night races, special events such as a demolition derby have proven successful. The facility seats 2,500 spectators, although on busier weekends – when between 100 and 167 cars participate – there is standing room only.
The Master Musicians Festival is an annual tradition that locals anticipate all year long. The event is a three-day showcase of different types of music. The Festival has been known to showcase blues, newgrass, country, jazz, Celtic, Motown and, of course, bluegrass. The Master Musicians Festival takes place on the third weekend of July and attracts 15,000 people to Somerset every year. Along with music, the festival has children’s activities, arts and crafts booths and food vendors.