Another Lincoln Days a success with lookalikes and railsplitters

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By Linda Ireland

 Last week’s weather predictions were a cause for concern for Lincoln Days organizers.

Luckily, the promised rain ended Friday night. Festival-goers enjoyed a mostly sunny Saturday with some cool breezes.

The morning was capped with Whit McMahan of Nashville, Tenn., winning the Lincoln Look-Alike contest. McMahan, a perennial competitor, incorporated an “emergency telegram” into his speech. He shared a few details of the Battle of Perryville, a turning point in the Civil War, with the audience.

Five other men competed for the title including David Kreutz (second) of New York, Charlie Long of Shepherdsville, Tom Wright of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Ted Bruzas of Avon, Ind., and Larry Elliott of Louisville (third).

Kreutz drove 11 hours to Hodgenville from his home in Buffalo, New York for the Lincoln Days Celebration in a Lincoln Mark VIII LSC touring car.

After the contest, Kreutz showed off the vehicle which is customized with Lincoln Bicentennial Penny art. A 29-inch penny is on the hood and full-size penny decal stripes are on the sides. 

“I was going to cover it in 181 pounds of pennies … but it was too much work,” he said.

He’s had the car since the late 1990s and has entered it in 71 car shows in the last 18 months. 

“If I come down next year (for Lincoln Days) I’ll leave it here and dedicate it to The Lincoln Museum,” he said.

Linda Lou Brewer of Central City won the Mary Todd Lincoln Look-Alike Contest. She gave a speech outlining the highs and lows of Mary Todd’s life.

Debbie Grise of Russellville was second. She finished her presentation with a deep curtsey and a flirtatious flutter of eyelashes behind a hand fan. 

Melanie Van Tassel of Hardin County was third.

Lincoln presenter Jim Sayre, who assisted with the contest, said several members of the Association of Abraham Lincoln Presenters had passed away recently. They include Jim “Abe” Hitchcock, 71, of Stamford, New York, the first and charter member of the Association; Charles Brame, 85, of California, who appeared as Lincoln in several films and TV shows including Zoolander, Happy Gilmore and The Drew Carey Show; Gerald Bestrom, 75, of Hastings, Mich., who portrayed Lincoln in the 2011 Robert Redford-directed film “The Conspirator;” and Joyce Browning, 66, of Charleston, a Mary Todd Lincoln presenter.

All four had visited Hodgenville and competed in the annual Look-Alike contests.

Jimmy Rodgers, long-time emcee of the contest, said he appreciated the presenters’ dedication to the festival.

“Without you all, Lincoln Days would not be the same,” he said.



The signature event of Lincoln Days’ Pioneer Games is the professional rail-splitting competition.

Larry Hill of Greenville, Mo., won the event. Nick Williams of Doniphan, Mo., was second; Chris Friedlein of Gibson City, Ill., was third; Bill Thomas of Upton was fourth.

In the amateur division, Jonathan Maynard of New Haven was first; Tyler Hornback of Hodgenville was second; and Dustin White of Branson, Mo., was third.

In the junior division, Matthew Hornback was first; Casey Brooks was second; and Coy Lindsey was third.