Kim Roberts, the Executive Director of Franklin-Simpson Renaissance, is halfway through her third year of being the Executive Director of Franklin-Simpson Renaissance, and she’s putting her stamp on the organization.
“I think every Renaissance director has done that,” said Roberts. “Each one kept what was working, such as the Summer Nights Concerts, but added individual touches.”
Roberts grew up surrounded by the farming business. “My dad owned a fertilizer and chemical business, and I always swore I would never marry a farmer, but I did,” she laughed.
Roberts raised and sold produce commercially for seven years and has long been involved in Franklin’s agricultural life but said she knew very little about Renaissance until eight years ago when then-Renaissance Director Amy Ellis asked her to join the board. “I was more geared toward the Farmers Market than Renaissance,” she said. “But I said yes, and found that I loved it. I had been on the board for five years when I became the director, which made it easier for me. I sort of just eased into it.”
When Roberts became the Executive Director, she polled the community, asking citizens what they felt the town was missing. “We had an age gap, and the younger generation said so. The Summer Nights Concerts Series was perfect for our older folks, and we had Boo Fest for the kids, but we weren’t providing for our young adult and teenage residents.”
Roberts set out to change that, and as a result, Summer Vibes was born. “We geared the concert to happen right before school starts. This year’s festival, for instance, will be on Saturday, Aug. 26.”
Smash Mouth will be the headliner this year, a nationally known group most famous for the song “All Star,” which appeared on the soundtrack of the movie “Shrek.”
Roberts says booking the group has made her a hit with her children. “Both of my daughters — age seventeen and age thirty-one — want to make me ‘mother of the year.’ And my seven-year-old granddaughter loves the movie, Shrek, so she thinks I’m pretty cool, too.”
This is the third year for Summer Vibes. “We started the project two years ago with regionally known groups. It’s a collaboration between Renaissance and Tourism,” said Roberts. “But this year we also had to rely on quite a few sponsors to make it happen, for instance, Kentucky Downs is our headlining sponsor this year.”
The live one-day music festival is free and will feature other bands during the day, such as The Restless, Born Crooked, Kid Politics, and Whiskey, Cash & Roses.
The summer Renaissance activities begin this week:
“Lunch on the Lawn” will be held on the square this Friday, May 5th, with the Cattlemen selling grilled ribeye sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs, and local musician Tommy Johnson providing music from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
“Live on Main” is a first-time event, and will take place at the Roxy on May 20th from 7-11 p.m. It is another example of Roberts’ determination to bring in groups that appeal to the younger Franklin residents. “I’ve partnered with Shawn Burton — a Franklin booking agent — to bring in two regionally
known bands, Spilt Milk and The Barrows,” said Roberts, “and I love the fact that we’re using The Roxy. It’s such a cool space. If this concert goes well, and we have a good turnout, we may do another one in July and then again in the winter.”
Next on the summer calendar is “Summer Nights,” a series of concerts scheduled for the Friday nights of June 16, 23, and 30, July 14, 21, and 28, and August 11 and 18. The concerts are free and located on the Simpson County Courthouse lawn from 7-9 p.m. For information on the bands, go to the website at Summer Nights Concerts (franklinsimpsonrenaissance.com).
Then summer closes out with the Summer Vibes all-day music festival on Aug. 26th.
Roberts keeps a framed map of downtown Franklin on her office wall, with the historic district marked off in red. “This map keeps me grounded,” she said. “When I’m trying to figure out what to do next, I look at this map. For instance, the historic downtown Franklin corner was a project I thought up looking at this map.”
She also decided to plant fresh flowers on the square this year while gazing at the map, though they won’t appear until the second week in May. “My ag background comes in handy sometimes,” said Roberts. “My grandfather taught me when to plant flowers — after my sister’s birthday on May 13th. He always said that they hit the ground growing if you just wait until then.”
As busy as the summer is with Renaissance concerts and activities, the events do not stop at the end of the summer.
On Sept. 15th and 16th, Renaissance and Tourism will join forces once more to host two linked events — the Cruise-In and the Car Show, Roberts explained. “Renaissance will be putting together the 60th annual Cruise-In on September 15th. Then the car show is on the 16th, which will be put on by Tourism.”
“Boofest” is on the calendar for Oct. 21st. “There are a lot of organizations that go together to do ‘Boofest,’ ” said Roberts. “But after that comes “Small Town Christmas,” and that festival is all Renaissance.”
In other words, Renaissance events begin on May 5th and continue through Dec. 2nd.
“A lot of people think my work is over after ‘Small Town Christmas,’ ” said Roberts, “but that’s when I have to dig in to find the bands for all of our summer concerts.”
Roberts has no intention of leaving Renaissance. “I’m hooked,” she said. “It started with me helping Amy Ellis, but soon I realized that Renaissance is a big part of our town, and if I’m going to live here, and probably retire here, this is a fantastic opportunity to have a say-so about what happens in my town.”
With Kim Roberts in charge of Renaissance, it’s a safe bet that historic Franklin, Ky. will always have something new and interesting going on — from fresh flowers to Smash Mouth.
That’s just the Kim Roberts’ stamp.
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