Frontier Days: A Lynchburg tradition for nearly 60 years

During early Frontier Week celebrations, town officials closed off the Lynchburg Square to everything except horse traffic during the day to recreate the look and feel of a real frontier town. (Photo Courtesy of Sandra Ashby Bauer)

From a Fourth of July celebration to a trail ride to a week long celebration to the current two-day event, the Lynchburg tradition known today as Frontier Days enjoys a past dating back to 1962.

Nearly 60 years ago, the Lynchburg American Legion Post 192 launched what would evolve into Frontier Days on July 4, 1962. Hailed as a Big July Fourth Celebration, that first event featured a beauty contest, swimming, a Little League baseball tournament, barbecue and more all set in the footprint near where the Lynchburg Public Pool sits today.

The following year, the community added the Lynchburg Ride-a-Thon, a trail ride from Jack Daniel’s Distillery to the Hurdlow community. In it’s hey day, the ride attracted hundreds of horse riders, covered wagons, and pony carts from Moore and the surrounding counties as well as the attention of Nashville newspapers and television stations.

In 1965, the event evolved again. This time, into a week long celebration aptly named Frontier Week that featured a store window display contest, costume contests, Best Beard and Best Mustache contest, nightly music, and public dances on the Square.

According The Heritage of Moore County, then Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce President Harold Pool modeled the new Frontier Days after Cheyenne Frontier Days, an event that still exists today. It features the “World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo” and attracts big name music acts like Miranda Lambert and Garth Brooks.

Pool stumbled across some marketing for the Wyoming event and thought it would be a good fit for Lynchburg. Fellow chamber members Leroy Wilkinson, Ray Benderman, and Truman Ashby agreed and the first Lynchburg Frontier Week took place the week leading up to July 4.

As part of the festivities, local officials blocked off the the Lynchburg Square to everything except horse and wagon traffic and local business owners and employees all wore western wear in attempt to recreate the look and feel of a frontier town.

In 1968, Frontier Week got re-imagined as Frontier Days, an annual event that typically takes place the weekend before July 4. Many of the traditions of those first events like nightly music, public dances on the Lynchburg Square, and great food remain.

This year’s Frontier Days will also feature arts and crafts vendors as well as live music. The Lynchburg Chamber will host a Live Auction and there will be a carnival runway featuring rides and games. The fun begins on Friday around 5 p.m. and ends with a Fireworks Show on Saturday night around 9 p.m. •

{Editor’s Note: Sandra Ashby Bauer posted over 40 historic picture from early Frontier Days and Lynchburg Ride-A-Thon on the Moore County Historical Society Facebook Group . Click here to view them.)