Derby time

Steve and Jan Russo enjoy mint juleps at “Talk Derby to Me.”

The Friends of Jenny Wiley held a “Talk Derby to Me” fundraiser on Saturday in celebration of the 145th Kentucky Derby.

The event featured an auction, racing games, live music and other activities, including prizes for the best Derby hat. 

In its second year, “Talk Derby to Me” raised more than $2,700 for the nonprofit group, which works to improve Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. 

“We’re unbelievably lucky to have a state park inside our town, inside our county. It’s just unbelievable how nice it is to have it,” said Jim Stewart, the group’s vice president. 

Member Randall Burchett feels the same way. He spent much of his childhood at Jenny  Wiley and credits the park for keeping him “on the straight and a narrow” when he was a kid.  

“We all work hard simply because we love the state park,” said Burchett, who’s been a member of the Friends of Jenny Wiley since its inception. “And we try to help them any way we can in areas that they don’t have funding. That’s our primary goal, is to promote the park, help improve the park and help maintain the park so people from all walks of life and all states can come and visit us.”

He said local residents take the park for granted. 

“It’s exciting to see so many people working together for one common goal, and the state park, sometimes we take it for granted. It’s here. It’s beautiful. It gives us a lot of enjoyment and we would, of course, miss it if it’s gone, so we need to appreciate what it has,” said Burchett.   

The Friends of Jenny Wiley has been working for years to improve Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, hosting litter cleanup events and promoting the park on the group’s Facebook page. In 2017, the Friends of Jenny Wiley got a grant from Snapple and Dr. Pepper to get recycling bins for the park’s campground. 

The group also hosts monthly trail work days at the park and is building a changing station at the trailhead for the adjoining Sugarcamp Mountain Trails on Stonecrest.  

Friends of Jenny Wiley President Brittainy Branham, a Prestonsburg City Council member, said she got involved with the group because she spends a lot of time at the park and noticed it needed help with some projects. 

“I care about our environment. I care about our area and how we portray ourselves to the rest of the world. I wanted to be a part of helping portray eastern Kentucky in a better light, so that’s why we work so hard with our lake cleanups and our trail work and different projects like that,” she said. 

The group has about 50 members and about 20 of them regularly attend meetings and events. 

“We’re always looking for new members,” Stewart said. “Certainly, anybody that enjoys nature, that enjoys being outdoors doing stuff, volunteering, we’d be tickled to have them come help us do the stuff that we do.”  

The group meets on the last Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the May Lodge. 

Its next trail work day is scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. on May 19.

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