Wayland is the smallest town in the United States to host a Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit. On Saturday, Bill Goodman spoke to a crowd of 50 people there to view what Wayland had to offer. “You’ll be hard pressed to find a town in Kentucky that does it better,” he brags, and reminds us that “these exhibits are for Rural America. You won’t find them in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, or Paducah.”
The small town of Wayland, population approximately 500, has very charming attributes. A community room in the Wayland Community Center is modeled after a 50’s era diner — working Coca-Cola, Candy, and Pin Ball machines included. The Jukebox against the far wall features old favorites, and the relics hanging about will take you back to a simpler time.
Permanent fixtures upstairs feature a Coal Museum and a Community Museum which display artifacts and antiques from a time when Wayland was booming. Around the Community Museum, you’ll find antique radios, televisions, and everyday household items. A display case is sprinkled with a little bit of Wayland’s sports history.
Temporarily — a Local Sports History Exhibit sits down the hall. Every area State Championship trophy that could be located and loaned is there: Inez’s 1941/1954 trophies and the 1956 Carr Creek Champions, led by the storied Fred Maggard, to name a few. Letterman jackets and tokens of stellar accomplishments are spread about the room. If you’re a sports fan or historian like myself, your breath is taken passing the threshold.
Down the road features a Smithsonian Institute exhibit called Hometown Teams: How Sports Shaped America. It features facts, heirlooms, and monuments explaining the impact athletics have had on our great nation. Lots of foot traffic came through the interactive museum and enjoyed learning the unusual things — like why teams shake hands after a game and who threw the very first “First Pitch”.
Next door is the coup de grâce — The Wayland High School Gym; it’s still standing, still waiting for you to take a shot inside. King Kelly’s State Tournament Records are hung above the far backboard, alongside it, a 50’s-era functional scoreboard. Basketballs rest in the stands for you to use when you enter. Who could resist? The sound of the ball when you dribble is music to your ears… and it’s a shooter’s gym — solid walls behind the backboards and no distractions. Anyone I’ve ever brought there has the same sentiment:
“I could spend all day in here.”
Wayland is the first Kentucky leg of this National exhibit thanks to their rockstar Mayor, Jerry Fultz, and his insistence that people don’t forget the history in those mountains. The Opening Ceremony saw legislators,
Kentucky Humanities Council Curators, and people who traveled miles to be there. The ceremony featured an actor from the Chatauqua Characters who portrayed Dodgers great “PeeWee” Reese. The audience was captivated during his entire performance. It was fantastic.
You may have missed the Opening Ceremony but the Closing Ceremony may be even better. Stay tuned for details on how to acquire tickets to a Legends Dinner and more. You may even get a chance to meet King Kelly Coleman himself.
Kayla Moore VanHoose
@BluegrassBball on Twitter