Eubank, you officially have a zombie infestation on your hands.
The first Walker Weekend event to take place at Eubank City Park on Saturday proved to be such a good fit there for organizers that they've already booked the venue again for next year — October 9, 2022.
"It's a shame it gets forgotten a lot, but it's the best park," said Wynona Padgett of the Somerset Junior Woman's club, describing the quaint slice of American life feel to the Eubank City Park. "It's absolutely gorgeous."
Normally, the Zombie Walk event — a seasonal Halloween-time festival where people get dressed and painted up like their favorite undead characters or just aim for a spooky look to show off their imagination — is held on the Judicial Center Plaza in downtown Somerset. However, bookings by other entities for 2020 made late last year forced the Walker Weekend organizers to change their plans. They decided to move up to Eubank, and were very happy with how it turned out, despite the wet weather all day long.
"We never really got a big crowd like when it was held in Somerset, but got a good, steady crowd throughout the day," said Padgett. "Because of the size of the crowd, we were able to keep it socially distanced and keep everyone safe."
It also allowed for attractions like hay rides held by the Eubank Fire Department, with proceeds going to benefit Relay for Life (the non-profit meant to battle cancer has a whole tent set up to help raise money, a help since their own event in Pulaski County was cancelled this year) and a large shelter which allowed for live music by the Graveyard Romeos out of Lexington and creepy yarns by the Storyteller (making his first appearance on a Walker Weekend Saturday after becoming a Friday night tradition at the Shine House) even though the rain was unrelenting Saturday. And people were more likely to throw away their trash in the park than in downtown Somerset, Padgett observed, making clean-up afterward easier.
Unlike MacArthur Park, no one had to leave their cake out in the rain, either — the "Creepy Cake" contest and auction went on without any of the fantastically decorated confections in all manner of eerie designs getting soggy, noted Padgett.
"That raised $342 for the (Pulaski County) Humane Society," said Padgett of the cake auction. "All the cakes were amazing, but the cakes from the professional category blew us away."
Best Overall Cake went to a realistic-looking cauldron cake by the Sweet Spot in Somerset — "It was their first time entering this type of a contest, so they were thrilled," said Padgett.
Winner in the professional adult category was Becky Miller from Kroger, with a cake that featured fierce teeth; Hayley Simmons did a haunted castle design to win the amateur adult category; and 11-year-old Morgan Somerlott worked with fondant icing for the first time to create cute but spooky dogs and cats to honor the Humane Society, which benefitted from the contest.
The zombie costume contest was held again this year, but also a Halloween costume contest for neat looks that didn't necessarily have anything to do with zombies, resulting in eight costume contest winners in all (a man and woman and boy and girl in each category). Around 68 people in all took part in the contest.
The annual "Thriller" dance was scrapped due to COVID-19 concerns, though Padgett hopes to have Pep & Pizzazz Studio participate again next year and teach the dance, but the familiar Michael Jackson song that introduced dancing zombies to the MTV era was played as the annual "zombie walk" was held Saturday evening, with costumed participants staggering around the park's walking path led by the light of a golf cart.
If anything kept the crowd down, it was the rain and COVID-19, said Padgett; although the event was held Saturday in the far northern reaches of Somerset, that didn't necessarily keep many people away.
"The rain probably is hurting us a little," said Padgett on Saturday, "but I think if it had been the beautiful weather we expected, I think we would have been overrun with people.
"I feel like the people from the northern part of the county were happy to have us there," she added on Monday "(The event) normally draws people from other counties. Having it up north might have drawn more from Lincoln County or Casey County, whereas in Somerset maybe we get more from Wayne or McCreary Counties. It's six one, half-a-dozen the other."
Eubank Mayor Eddie Hicks was "pleased and tickled to death" with how the event utilized Eubank's park resources, said Padgett. He was happy to have Walker Weekend become something Eubank could enjoy, and he wasn't the only one.
"Most everyone we talked to enjoyed the location. A couple people didn't understand why we moved it, but once we explained it, they did understand and agreed that it was a nice place to hold the event," said Padgett. "Having it here once already, it can only improve, and we've already got some ideas for next year floating around."