After a long day of clearing brush and cleaning gravestones, Ron McCoy takes a moment to stand before the towering statue of Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, which sits atop the famous feudist’s resting place. This interesting and deeply moving moment was captured without, at the time, Ron’s knowledge. What ran through Ron’s head as he stood there is anyone’s guess, however, such a compelling moment had an undeniable impact on me, so I snapped the photo.
Ron, along with descendant Bob Scott (Hatfield), had been spending the week in their ancestral home of Pikeville-Pike County, Kentucky assisting Pike County Tourism CVB staff and volunteers in cleaning and preparing the gravesites of the feudists for tourist season. Thousands of feud descendants, as well as history buffs from all over the world visit Pikeville-Pike County each year to tour the sites of the world’s most famous feud, and to these descendants, the gravesites’ condition are of utmost importance. To see the descendants of these famous feudists cleaning the gravestones of their family’s ancestral enemy is a powerful image of forgiveness, and truly shows the humble heart these people have developed despite a legacy of hatred and bloodshed.
Ron, along with descendant Bob Scott (Hatfield), had been spending the week in their ancestral home of Pikeville-Pike County, Kentucky assisting Pike County Tourism CVB staff in cleaning and preparing the gravesites of the feudists for tourist season. Thousands of feud descendants, as well as history buffs from all over the world visit Pikeville-Pike County each year to tour the sites of the world’s most famous feud, and to these descendants, the gravesites’ condition is of utmost importance.
As marketing director of Pike County Tourism CVB, I have, for years, sought to not only promote the Pike County Hatfield & McCoy Feud Sites as a historic destination, but also to tell the story of the feud from interesting and unique points of view. I find the perspective of the direct descendants to be particularly interesting, as their relationship with the history is so intriguing. Given that there are great many Hatfield and McCoy descendants around today, with a great variety of perspectives on feud history, we tend to reach out to the descendants that were involved in signing the Peace Treaty when creating our content, namely Ron McCoy, Bo McCoy and Reo Hatfield. William Keith Hatfield and Jack Hatfield, who are William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield’s descendants, are also two resources that we commonly reach out to, as they have worked over the years to create and enhance our Hatfield McCoy events, namely Hatfield McCoy Heritage Days which takes place each year in September in Pikeville/Pike County, Kentucky.
The Hatfield – McCoy Feud: From Retribution to Reconciliation
Recently, we called upon some of these descendants to assist us in creating a video detailing their story as it relates to the Hatfield and McCoy Feud; to tell the story of how the two families went from retribution to reconciliation. The following video was filmed in the Preacher Anse Hatfield Hog Trial Cabin, and features descendants Ron McCoy, Reo Hatfield and William Keith Hatfield.
For nearly 30 years Appalachian Wireless Arena General Manager Paul Bowles and legendary rodeo producer Bobby Rowe worked together in Salem, Virginia and January 24-26, 2020 they will join back up for the 1st Annual Eastern Kentucky Stampede.
“We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring our family oriented rodeo to Eastern Kentucky,” Imperial Rodeo Company spokesman Kevin DeBusk said. “More so, we’re really excited to partner up with Paul again because, much like we do, he insists on his patrons getting a quality product.”
“When I started my new career as General Manager, several local people asked if I could find a rodeo with all the competitions instead of just Bull Riding and I’m excited about reuniting this partnership,” Paul Bowles said.
Bowles continued saying, “When a GM is searching for event several items must be considered before booking any type event. Are you putting the best event in front of your patrons that support your venue? Is there a level of trust? Can we be successful? To answer those questions, look no further than the Imperial Rodeo Company. Bobby and his company and contractors have been successful, trustworthy, and produce a first class rodeo for over 50 years.”
As for that 50 plus years Bowles referenced. Imperial Rodeo Company and Bobby Rowe have been bringing family oriented International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) events to venues across the country for 50 plus years. Prior to establishing his own company producer Bobby Rowe learned the ropes of rodeo while working for Loretta Lynn and her rodeo company as well as competing in four events: Saddle Bronc; Bareback; Bull Riding; and Steer Wrestling. In addition, he captured the 1965 IPRA World Saddle Bronc title and has been recognized for his work numerous times over his career.
“And it’s that knowledge and passion combined with some of the best specialty acts, bull fighters, rodeo clown, stock and contestants in the nation that assures a first-class experience,” DeBusk said. “After all our shows are perfect for those 2 to 82.”
Pikeville-Pike County, Kentucky is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination for not only those interested in Hatfield and McCoy Feud lore, but also those who enjoy authentic country experiences, and outdoor adventure. Over the past few years, tourist spending has been at an all time high in Pike County, with travelers who are looking for alternatives to better known historic and outdoor destinations flocking to our Appalachian mountains. Sometimes it’s more interesting to switch things up, and explore some of America’s lesser-known treasures, and Pikeville-Pike County is stocked full of hidden gems. So what are some must-dos for the first time visitor? Let’s take a look.
1) Hatfields & McCoys Historic Feud Tours
How amazing would it be to hold bullets fired in the OK
Coral showdown? Bullets fired in the infamous Hatfield New Years attack on the
McCoy homeplace are on display for visitors to see, and so much more, in
Pikeville-Pike County. Firearms owned by “Devil” Anse Hatfield, as well as many
of the significant sites where the Hatfields and McCoys lived, worked, and
fought are all open to tourists to explore with the Hatfields & McCoys
Historic Feud Tour. With this
self-guided tour, visitors will traverse the mountainous region we call “feud
country”, featuring the McCoy Homeplace, the Hog Trial Cabin, Aunt Betty’s
House, the Historic Pike County Courthouse (site of the trial of the Hatfields
and “Cotton Top” Mounts), feudists graves and so much more, all available during
daylight hours. The Big Sandy Heritage Museum features a Hatfield and McCoy
exhibit, which contains the world’s most complete collection of Hatfield McCoy
artifacts. Want to learn more about the Irish heritage that became Hatfield
& McCoy heritage?
2) Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery
Pikeville’s premiere brewery and distillery, Dueling Barrels features a tour that not only explores how moonshine, bourbon and beer is made, but also the rich culture that makes Appalachia so colorful and unique. Tours cost $12 per person and guests over the age of 21 will receive four tasting tokens to use in the tasting bar. With a fully stocked gift shop, this tour has become a staple for the Hatfield McCoy Feud Tour experience. Stay tuned for news on the opening of their highly anticipated taproom, Pearse’s Place.
3) Downtown Shopping & Dining
Also located in Downtown Pikeville is an assortment of charming
“mom-and-pop” stores, with clever, high quality gifts, clothing, locally made
products and more. Out Historic Downtown shopping district includes popular
spots such as Ritchie’s Art and Gift Shoppe, Mickey’s Menagerie, CC Belle (a
clothing store) and Dance World, each offering something all their own. Rustic
Roots on Second offers locally crafted art, as well as t-shirts, candles and more.
If you have a knack for creativity, or simply want to try something new, Rustic
Roots also offers art classes.
There are several dining options as well, from Bank 253’s
sports bar to Chirico’s authentic Italian, and everything in between. For one
of the best burgers in town, look no further than Joyce’s Place. The
award-winning Blue Raven is a must try for visitors who want to taste expertly
prepared dishes that use local ingredients. Dorsey’s Dairy Bar is a staple for
those who fancy the flavors of a classic, down home drive-in restaurant. Their
hotdogs are the stuff of legends.
For those of you who enjoy the most important meal of the
day, Southern Biscuit and Grill
is now open on Second Street as well, offering delicious breakfast,
lunch, and a bit of everything else.
4) Outdoor Adventure
Pike County is home to towering Appalachian Mountains with a great variety of hiking, biking, horse and river trails. Hosting over 100 runs a year, Pikeville-Pike County’s outdoor scene is booming. Visitors make it a point to travel into the region from all over to take part in the many 5Ks planned throughout the year, as well as special outdoor events, such as the Southlake Trail Ride at Lick Creek, Hatfield McCoy Powersports Spring 2019 Ride the Ridge, whitewater rafting in Elkhorn City and so much more.
Pikeville City offers something truly special for the outdoor enthusiast. Pikeville’s Zip, Paddle & Saddle features horseback riding on approximately 3 miles of horse trails, kayaking down Pikeville’s lazy Big Sandy River, and Zip across the top of a mountain on 7 lines up to 1000′ long. Visitors can enjoy all of this for one low price.
One cannot mention outdoor adventure without mentioning…
5) Breaks Interstate Park – Elk Viewing, Cultural & Outdoor Activities
With over 4000 acres of breath-taking beauty, wildlife, and
25 miles of trails, the Breaks Interstate Park is one of America’s most breath-taking
hidden gems. The Breaks is regionally known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”,
and prominently features a 5-mile wide gorge
that reaches 1650 feet deep. One of the Breaks most exciting and popular
offerings is the Elk Viewing tours, where visitors can potentially see over 100
elk on a vast, scenic preservation. The Breaks even offers lodging and dining
options, with cabins, cottages, and a lodge available for reservation.
For a truly memorable
experience, visitors are invited to enjoy dinner overlooking the canyon at the
Rhododendron Restaurant. With
floor-to-ceiling windows, visitors can dine in a comfortable atmosphere while
taking in a breath-taking scene of an Appalachian mountain range. The menu is
also amazing, offering a broad selection of delicious dishes.
The Breaks also offers
a variety of educational opportunities as well, from a moonshine
still demonstration, to a plant and animal life presentation with a segment on
coal. The Breaks Interstate Park is truly a must-see destination, worthy of a
weekend getaway, or an extended stay.
6) Pike County Cruise-ins
Pike County is a car lover’s paradise.
With cruise-ins showcasing classic cars and hotrods being held most every month
(during the warm months of the year), gear heads will feel right at home. Pike
County is home to several car clubs, full of passionate car enthusiasts with a
heart of gold. Many car shows held in our region have their own flavor, and
often serve as fundraisers for charities, making this a truly wonderful thing
for visitors to become a part of.
7) Pikeville Farmer’s Market
Visitors love to explore local flavor, and nothing gives you
a more authentic Pike County flavor than locally grown produce. The Pikeville
Farmer’s Market offers more than delicious produce, however. Scheduled for Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and
Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., each event also features crafts,
demonstrations and free samples. Many of the Pikeville Farmer’s Market events also
include unique presentations, such as the Spring Fling Mother’s Day Market,
seed swaps and so much more.
8) Live Entertainment
US 23, also known as the Country Music
Highway, runs through Pike County, and along it can be found the homeplaces of
many of Country’s most prolific stars. Artists such as Loretta Lynn, Crystal
Gayle, Tom T. Hall, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless and Dwight Yoakam all hail
from our region.
Eastern Kentucky’s talent pool is
brimming with new rising stars, which is put on display on various weekends
throughout the year, May through October. Main Street Live! is one of
Pikeville’s most popular live entertainment options, featuring a variety of
artists from an array of genres, from country to rock and roll.
Pike County also features two theatres
that showcase award-winning talent; Elkhorn City’s Artist Collaborative Theatre,
and Downtown Pikeville’s newly minted Appalachian Center for the Arts. Both
theatres offer an assortment of top quality productions throughout the year,
from beloved classics to contemporary hits, as well as shows uniquely their
Where To Stay in Pikeville/Pike County, KY
When you think of the rustic outdoors of the Appalachian Mountains, you may think of untamed adventure, unique culture and authentic experiences. What you most likely won’t be thinking of is decent lodging. Many of our visitors are surprised to learn that Pikeville-Pike County offers a wide variety of lodging to fit most any budget, which includes many well-known franchises such as the Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and the Holiday Inn Express. Our locally owned hotels and motels also provide a great lodging experience as well. To see a full list of our lodging options, click below.
Without a doubt, the last several years have been incredible for tourism in Pikeville Pike County, Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism, tourist spending in Pike County, Kentucky has increased by over $7.2 million since 2014. This is a great sign for a region rich in heritage, culture, scenic beauty, and of course the Hatfield McCoy Feud Tour. But the greatest news is, there are no signs of slowing down. People from all across the globe are inthralled with the feud history, and the unique experiences that can only be had in Eastern Kentucky. So what can visitors expect for 2019 in Pikeville Pike County, Kentucky? Let’s take a look:
Eastern Kentucky’s first joint brewery/distillery, Dueling Barrels has made a big splash with visitors since opening in June. With each passing month, more and more experiences have been added to what has already been an experience rich attraction. A host of amazing special events have already been held there for 2018, from the Hatfields and McCoys descendants having a meet, greet & taste for Hatfield McCoy Heritage Days 2018, to a special three-course dinner with Town Branch’s Master Distiller, Mark Coffman. The popular Hoptoberfest also kicked off in 2018, as well as a variety of fun block parties, making Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery a place to keep an eye on for 2019.
With the addition of the Randolph McCoy statue in 2018, as well as the completion of the Hatfield McCoy historic sites restoration project, there could be further plans in the works for the popular heritage tour for 2019. Pike County Tourism CVB commissioner and McCoy Well property owner Bob Scott has spearheaded many of these improvements, and despite the red tape and hurtles that still exist, hopes to possibly have the McCoy cabins rebuilt on the legendary property, a project he has been working on for several years. While there is no promise that this will be accomplished in 2019, there is still plenty of interesting things that will no doubt become available as the year progresses.
The East Kentucky Expo Center has featured a plethora of excellent events in 2018, seeing an increase not only in the frequency of events, but variety as well. Now under new management, there are more exciting things to come for the expo in 2019, with Tri-state MX, City Rockfest and Travis Tritt with the Marshall Tucker band shows scheduled for the opening quarter. If Cirque Musica’s Wonderland is any indicator of the variety that is to come, 2019 should feature a whole slew of unique entertainment experiences at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
Elkhorn City’s Artist Collaborative Theatre is one of Kentucky’s most award-winning community theatres, capturing a bevy of awards over the past several years for awe-inspiring performances and stage design. 2018’s schedule was packed full of standout shows, such as The Crucible, Send Me No Flowers and The Christians just to name a few. The shows currently announced for 2019 include the literary classic Desire Under the Elms and Mary Poppins Jr. Cotton Patch Gospel, (which features a live bluegrass band), along with the hilarious Beverly Hillbillies are also on tap, making 2019 an already exciting year for live theatre in Pike County, Kentucky.
Perhaps one of the most exciting new events coming to Pikeville-Pike County in 2019 is Preservation Kentucky Tour 120, May 18-19. The focus of the Preservation Kentucky 120 event is to showcase the diverse architectural styles of Kentucky, with the Pike County Courthouse being featured as a part of a state-wide initiative. A special production of Blood Song: The Story of the Hatfields and the McCoys will be showcased at the courthouse on the May 18th. More information on this exciting event is to be announced, so stay tuned.
Located in the Appalachian Mountains, Pikeville/Pike County, Kentucky is becoming well known for outdoor adventure and scenic beauty. However, winter is coming fast, and while the snow covered hills of Eastern Kentucky are an attraction of their own, visitors may be more interested in exploring the great indoors of our region.