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Cutting Edge Success

Big South Fork Knife Show is deemed a success.

By Eugenia Jones

Last weekend’s first annual Big South Fork Knife Show was a “cutting edge” event and the first of its kind in McCreary County.  Drawing vendors, purchasers, and onlookers from several different states including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, and South Carolina, the seventy-seven table event left its participants feeling good about McCreary County.

“Vendors were overwhelmed by the loving welcome they received here. They were blown away by the friendly personality of our community,” organizer William Kilby noted enthusiastically.  “It was phenomenal!  Some of the vendors who have done knife shows all their lives mentioned that the shows have gotten less enjoyable throughout recent years; however, because of our community, this show took us back to the good old days when people stopped to talk and fellowship.  The vendors were just overwhelmed by our community and our people.”

Kilby said the show was a definite success.

“I would love to see it grow,” Kilby noted.  “I expect all the vendors who came this year will want to come back.  I also expect a lot of interest from new vendors.  I’m already trying to think of a bigger venue here in McCreary County, because I want to keep the show local.”

Kilby laughed about the vendors being overwhelmed by the wide variety of concessions offered during the event.

“After the show, one vendor from Pennsylvania got in touch and asked me to ship some of the whoopie pies to him,” Kilby said with a grin.

The show was honored when legendary knife maker, Bob Neal from Wayne County, KY, came by the show to browse and swap stories with the vendors.

Well known by those who collect unique, quality knives, Neal has been making knives for forty-one years.

Neal is a self-taught knife maker and learned to make knives by rebuilding old knives.

“I’d take a knife home and tear it to pieces,” Neal recalled.  “Then I’d make a new part for it, put it back together, and make a good knife out of it.”

It was Neal’s wife, Joyce, who encouraged her husband to begin making his own knives from start to finish.  Today, the eighty-six year old Neal continues to work almost daily in his shop.  

Looking back over his knife making career, Neal has only two wishes or regrets.

“I wish I had known I could do knives when I was younger,” Neal said solemnly.  “And I wish my dad had lived long enough to see the knives I’ve made.”

When asked how many knives he has made throughout his lifetime, Neal replied.

“People ask me that, and I have no idea,” he said with a grin.   “I really don’t know, but I’ve made a big pile of them.  It has been a good ride!”

Photos by Eugenia Jones

During the first annual Big South Fork Knife Show, legendary knife maker Bob Neal stopped by with his four-legged buddy, Jingle, to swap stories and browse. The show was highly successful with participants coming from several different states including Pennsylvania, Florida, and South Carolina.

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