African American New Zion community celebrates 150 years

Street Fair, Live Blues and Gospel Music, Pig Roast, Old-Fashioned Basket Meeting part of celebration
By: Georgetown/Scott County Tourism
Historic marker recalls history of New Zion community of Scott County, KY.
Historic marker recalls history of New Zion community of Scott County, KY.
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* Georgetown - Kentucky - US

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - July 27, 2018 - PRLog -- New Zion, a historical and influential African American community in Scott County, celebrates 150 years since its founding on Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26, at 122 New Zion Road. The celebration includes live blues music; a street fair with arts and crafts vendors, pig roast, fried chicken and more; an old-fashioned basket meeting with Sunday morning and evenings services and home-cooked dinner; and Back to Basic Gospel Singing.

"All are welcome to this celebration as the residents of New Zion, including descendants of the original founders, mark this historic milestone," said Willa "Billie" Gentry, New Zion historian and festival coordinator.

According to a deed at the Scott County Courthouse, formerly enslaved men Primus Keene and Calvin Hamilton purchased 23 acres of land on Nov. 23, 1872, but the settlement of this land took place even earlier. According to oral history, it is believed the village had already been established in 1868. By 1870, the Scott County census recorded 165 residents in Briar Hill with approximately 50 others living on or owning farms nearby.

Both Keene and Hamilton sold lots to other formerly enslaved persons, forming the African American village of Briar Hill. Homes were built on the lots sold by Hamilton; a church, school, lodge and well were built on the lots Keene sold.

The village was eventually renamed New Zion and, 125 years after its founding, a marker presented by the Scott County Fiscal Court was erected by the Kentucky Historical Society in 1993. Descendants of the founders and earliest settlers still live in the village. Thirteen historical homes remain, all but four occupied, as well as the church and village cemetery. Four Buffalo Soldiers, members of the 9th and 10th Cavalries and the 23rd and 24th Infantries – the first all-African American military units formed during peace time – are buried in this cemetery.

New Zion 150th Birthday Celebration, Scott County, KY

Festival website:; click on "August" tab.

Date    Friday-Sunday, Aug. 24-26, 2018

Friday: 6 p.m. – live blues with Tee Dee Young's Blues band.

Saturday: 1 p.m. – Street Fair, featuring arts and crafts and home-cooked food vendors, including fried fish and chicken, frog legs, a pig roast, homemade pickles, salsa and chow chow and more; 6 p.m. – Gregg Figgs' Blues Band.

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – Old-Fashioned Basket Meeting, with Morning Service followed by home-cooked dinner and Evening Service led by Pastor Christopher Lee of Cincinnati, OH, followed by country fried fish. Back to Basic Gospel Singing, featuring the Williams Sisters, Joyful Souls, the Edwards Sisters and more.

Place    122 New Zion Road, New Zion, KY 40447

Cost     Free

Misc.   Bring lawn chairs and coolers.

For more information about the New Zion 150th Birthday Celebration, call Billie Gentry at 859-619-3738.


Willa "Billie" Gentry, Festival Coordinator


Lori Saunders (, Executive Director
Georgetown/Scott County Tourism (


Photo: Kentucky Tourism

HI- and LOW-RES photos available.

| New Zion is a historic neighborhood located in Scott County, KY. Originally known as the village of Briar Hill, it was established as early as 1868, according to oral history. More than 165 former enslaved persons lived in this African American community by 1870. On Nov. 23, 1872, formerly enslaved men Primus Keene and Calvin Hamilton purchased 23 acres of land for $2,172.68. The land was divided into lots and sold to other formerly enslaved persons or donated for the construction of church, school, lodge and well. At some point, the village's name was changed to New Zion. Today, descendants of the founders and some of the community's earliest settlers still live in the village.

ABOUT GEORGETOWN, KY (|The birthplace of bourbon? Possibly. A small town bursting with charm in the midst of Kentucky Horse Country? Definitely. The fastest-growing city in Kentucky, Georgetown is at the epicenter of one of the least known but most disputed claims in the state – that of the true birthplace of bourbon. Other best-kept secrets: the circa 1917 Rosenwald School; Steve Hockensmith Fine Art Gallery; Heirlooms & Gretchen's authentic stained glass shop. Major attractions: Kentucky Horse Park; Toyota Motor Manufacturing Tour; Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm; the official Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden – Yuko-En on the Elkhorn; a Victorian-era downtown with locally-owned shops, restaurants, craft breweries and distilleries; Ward Hall, a Greek Revival antebellum plantation mansion; and Whispering Woods Riding Stables. Play at four Kentucky Proud farms and on scenic Elkhorn Creek. Accommodations include unique stays, campgrounds and 14 brand name chain hotels. Accolades: USA Today 10Best named Old Friends #2 and The Kentucky Horse Park #6 among "Best Kentucky Attractions-2017"; Money magazine chose Georgetown as the "Best Place to Live in Kentucky"; U.S. News and World Report declared Georgetown one of "8 Small Southern Towns to Visit in 2018." Uncover the secrets of a small town in Georgetown.

Lori Saunders, Executive Director
Tags:African American, Festivals, Live Music Entertainment
Location:Georgetown - Kentucky - United States
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