The Blue Moon of Kentucky Highway will lead you to quite possibly the most famous barn in all of Ohio County, the Rosine Barn, where every Friday night from early spring to mid December Bluegrass Music flows as freely as the laughter and camaraderie.
The Rosine Barn Jamboree draws its crowd from the world over. Barcelona Spain, Japan, Scotland and Australia to name a few; but most of the crowd is home grown Kentuckian’s, from the surrounding areas and Rosine to be specific.
The Barn itself, was built around 1947-1948 and was part of the Woosley’s Store. It’s been home to several things over the years. Once utilized as a Feed Mill for the store with the old scales still in place, even a black-smith shop. The Barn was also home to a bat factory, turning out wood to be sent to Louisville to be made into bats, Louisville Sluggers.
“In 1989-1990 a bunch of musicians would show up at the store and play music on the porch. By 1992 the crowds had grown so that folks were having trouble getting in to the store. With the help of the community, April of 1992 the barn opened it’s doors to Bluegrass Music, every Friday Night. Until about three years ago, the festivities would continue through the winter months, with musicians often trying to play in gloves with the fingers cut out, so now from December until sometime in April, the barn is closed due to inclement weather.” Bill Burden said.
Burden’s name is synonymous with the barn and during the ensuing years, he’s been a fixture at the venue. He’s remained at the helm, apart from taking time off during his wife’s illness, and has been a key part of the barn’s success. He credits the success to having a board for the organization, overseeing everything and helping make good business decisions for the establishment.
“This is a non-profit organization, so we are not here to give our money away to everybody that comes along, but we will furnish entertainment for our community and worldwide. Just like our sign says ‘we’re 42nd on 52 places in the world to visit’ “, He continues, “That’s amazing”. Burden is referring to the ranking given by The New York Times, in the article, ’52 places to visit in the world, 2016′.
“Musicians from all over come here and play and tell us ‘you can’t find atmosphere like we find at the barn’. It has a laid back feel, we try and run things on a schedule, but if somebody needs to sing a song, well sing it, then we will let the next band sing an extra one too. We’ll stay till we get it done”.
The barn has seating for approximately 100 inside; it’s suggested to bring lawn chairs, or sit at picnic tables under the shelter. With all the additional seating, the crowd can reach upwards of 200. Even on a hot summer night, there are people spilling out of every door at the barn and a yard full to boot. “By the first of September we will start seeing an increase in the crowd, leading up to the Bluegrass Festival. We have a tremendous bunch of young musicians around here. We had the group ‘Just Us’ play earlier in the summer and they got two standing ovations.”
It’s near impossible to talk about the barn, and not bring up Rosine’s Monroe family. Mr. Burden gave a little insight into years gone by. “I grew up in Horton, right down the road here, you’ll see a sign, but that’s all you see cause it’s all gone now. The Monroe’s lived up on Jerusalem Ridge near Horton. The road was kind of bad going up to the Monroe place. Bill would come in here and the road at the time wasn’t very passable, so he’d cut through Horton to get to the ridge. One day Bill was coming out in that shiny new car, and had to make a turn right after the bridge. George Tucker, a neighbor was on a big Bay, just a beautiful horse. Bill was busy looking at that horse, and side swiped a walnut tree. Just took the bark right off! He just kept going, didn’t slow down or anything. That walnut tree was finally cut down in the 70’s, but still had that place on it, from all those years ago.”
“We will shut down for the year the Second Friday in December. We finish up at the end of the year with a big Christmas party, for all the kids in this whole area. We buy ’em presents usually ranging in price for $5.00 to $8.00, we try to stay equal with it as much as we can. We take kids up to 12 years old, of course Santa will be here that night. You’d be amazed at how much joy these kids get out of that. We put up a Christmas Tree in the corner, and put quilts down for them to sit on taking up that whole dance floor” Burden said. “We used to sponsor the whole thing, and the amazing thing is now, people donate, and in the last few years, we’ve not been out anything, donations covered everything.”
The Rosine Barn Jamobree was one of the last known stages graced by Mr. Bill Monroe. If you listen real close, you can still hear that whistle blow. Yes, this area will forever be known for being the birthplace of Bluegrass and The Rosine Barn is doing its part to keep Bluegrass alive today.
— Kathrine Newman Timmons