Johnson County celebrates birthday of country music icon

WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 6 p.m. on Saturday
Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT
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WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 11 p.m. on Saturday

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Loretta Lynn grew up on Butcher Hollow in the small community of Van Lear in Johnson County. On Saturday, folks throughout the region gathered at her homeplace to celebrate the country music star’s 90th birthday.

Loretta Lynn told the stories of her youth through song and is the most awarded woman artist in country music history.

“She brought coal mining and the coal camp life and the struggles of Appalachia, and also the riches of Appalachia, to the forefront,” said Paintsville Tourism Executive Director Jeremiah Parsons. “She’s the most awarded female country music artist in the world. She’s wonderful. She’s our hometown girl, and we’re so happy to be able to celebrate her.”

Johnson County, the community of Van Lear, and many folks throughout the region came out to kickoff Loretta Lynn’s birthday celebration at her homeplace on Butcher Hollow.

Johnson County Judge-Executive Mark McKenzie declared April 9-14 “Loretta Lynn Week” throughout the county and encouraged folks to celebrate Loretta Lynn, her life, legacy, and Appalachian heritage.

“It allows us to recognize a native of Van Lear and Johnson County who has, you know, had a very successful life and career,” said Judge McKenzie.

Along with tourism officials throughout the region, local government officials, tourists, and some of Loretta Lynn’s family came out to celebrate as well, who sent word that Loretta Lynn was thrilled with the celebration.

“When we told meemaw about it, she was in tears. I mean, you know, this is her home place,” said granddaughter of Loretta Lynn, Tayla Lynn. “I was leaving out, I live next door to her, and I was leaving out yesterday, she goes, ‘Okay, you going home? You going home? Tell everybody I love them, and I miss them.’”

On Saturday, the festivities kicked off with an ATV trail ride. At noon, folks began to gather at the homeplace to await the unveiling of a proposed historical marker at the small cabin on Butcher Hollow.

“This is always going to be her home in her heart,” said Tayla Lynn, “and this means so much to our whole family.”

Saturday was only the beginning of Loretta Lynn’s 90th birthday celebrations. You can find a full list of events on Paintsville Tourism’s Facebook page.

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