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The 205th birthday of native son Abraham Lincoln was celebrated with the annual Lincoln Days luncheon.
Lincoln Presenter Jim Sayre of Lawrenceburg was the keynote speaker for the event held at Ovesen Heights Baptist Church.
Sayre, a performer with the Kentucky Humanities Council Chautauqua Series, has brought Lincoln’s speeches and actions to life for more than 30 years.
But like the 16th President, he got off to a lowly start. Sayre wasn’t born in a log cabin – but he admits he committed a few missteps when he began presenting Lincoln.
He made his first trip to Hodgenville in 1983 to participate in the Lincoln Lookalike contest during Lincoln Days.
He had a $50 rented suit “and no idea what he (was) doing.”
But, he won $25 in the beard contest and another $25 for coming in third in the lookalike contest.
“I broke even,” he told the crowd. He thought his “fame and fortune of Lincoln came to a beginning and end in one day.”
His longtime friend, Bill Sublett, also a Lincoln Presenter, encouraged him to “stick around and see what happens.”
“Thirty-one years later, here I am,” said the 79-year-old Sayre, who won the lookalike contest four times and eventually stopped entering.
Through Sayre’s performances, he has made “Hodgenville, Kentucky, known throughout the country – telling everyone where Abraham Lincoln was born,” he added. He has also presented Lincoln in Saipan to school children.
“I’ve got to do all these things, meet people and travel all over because of a $50 costume I rented in 1983 – and a great group of people in Hodgenville who opened their community to me,” he said.
He is a life member of the Association of Lincoln Presenters, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
Mike Eastridge, longtime volunteer and organizer of the Pioneer Games at Creek Front Park during Lincoln Days, was the recipient of the Mary Brooks Howard Award.
Philip B. Setters, past president of Lincoln Days, called Eastridge one of the “unsung heroes” of the festival. Eastridge was unable to attend the luncheon.
Linda Ireland, editor of The LaRue County Herald News, was presented the Richard Burks Lincoln Heritage Award at the luncheon. The award recognizes a person who has made significant contributions to the public understanding of the heritage of LaRue County, Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln Days Celebration.
Iris LaRue, past president, presented the award.