After moving to Winchester more than 40 years ago, Kitty Strode made it a point to become involved as a volunteer in as many ways as possible.
She started working with the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival committee and eventually was elected to the Winchester Board of Commissioners.
Strode now chairs the committee for the annual festival, which draws more than 30,000 visitors to Winchester each Labor Day weekend. From the days of hot air balloon rides, 10K races and vendor booths around the courthouse, Strode said the festival has changed a lot over the years. The Sunday night concert series was even named “The Kitty Strode Concert Series” in her honor.
Winchester Living magazine sat down with Strode to talk about how she is constantly impressed by the community’s generosity, strong networking and pride.
WL: What brought you to Winchester?
KS: I married someone from Winchester, relocated here and loved it. It’s a wonderful place to raise a child. I love a small town. But, to me, Winchester is the best of both worlds. Plus, I’ve made so many friends here. I know all small towns have their unique qualities, but I think Winchester is very special in that this community takes such pride in what goes on here. There’s a very giving population here.
WL: Were you there for the start of the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival?
KS: The festival started about 40 years ago with the Winchester Art Guild. They started by just putting a few vendors around the courthouse, but they outgrew it and moved to College Park. That’s about when I came on. The festival has taken on a life of its own. It’s a great thing for the community, but it has gotten so large it takes a lot more money and a lot more people to make it happen.
WL: Did you start the music series at the festival?
KS: Jackie Hodgkin actually started the series. I was on the entertainment committee at the time. Later, I was able to hook up with David Snowden of Triangle Talent and started booking our talent through them. We have been lucky to have some great on-the-up artists for our series. The year I tried to retire from the committee, they named the series after me. I was very touched.
WL: Why did you want to be a city commissioner?
KS: I felt since I had been involved in the grass-roots area of the community with the festival, with the chamber, with the Bluegrass Heritage Museum and other things, that I had a different feel coming into it. The men were businessmen, and I really had a feel, I thought, for what was going on with the pulse of this community.
Plus, I think it’s really nice to have a woman on the commission. We bring something different to the table. It may not be any better, but it’s a different perspective.
WL: What is something not many people know about you?
KS: I’ve taken up golf recently. Not very seriously, though. I’m also back to playing tennis a bit, which I used to do a long time ago. I’m an only child, but my friends are my family. I travel to South Carolina as often as I can to visit my grandchildren, too.
WL: What’s your favorite thing to do in Winchester?
KS: I love supporting anything downtown when I can. I’m so proud of the new businesses that have come into the community. Our downtown is so exciting right now, there are many new shops and, of course, the Engine House Deli + Pub.
Winchester is alive and well. We have so much to be thankful for downtown. I love to go to JK’s at Forest Grove to eat, and DJ’s and Woody’s. I love the Chamber. I don’t know that I can pick just one thing. §