Jamestown, NY - Home Of Lucille Ball and The "Lucy Fest"
We once again traveled to western NY to Lucy's hometown for the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival! Admittedly, the festival may be one of the least publicized festivals in which we have ever attended or participated. It's something that we have questioned and inquired about from several of the locals in Jamestown. It's like one of those "best kept secrets". Most locals feel that the festival is not highly promoted because the town itself is very protective of Lucy and her roots. They are extremely proud, but it is not something they want to shout from the mountain tops.
I suspect that it probably has more to do with the fact that if they DID heavily promote it, they may have more response and attendance than this little town can handle. So, I can certainly understand that. With a population of just over 30,000 people, that number could easily be doubled, tripled or even multiplied ten fold with adoring fans of Lucille Ball. The infrastructure of the town just couldn't handle it. Still, people DO come from all over the world just to attend the festival. How they have found out about it generally varies, but most have to do a little searching and Googling to find news of the festival.
We honestly didn't know anything about the festival until we made stop into Jamestown on our way home from an east coast trip in October of 2016. Jeff had discovered that Jamestown WAS the birthplace of Lucille Ball and her childhood home was located in nearby Celeron. In discovering this, he found out about the museum, the park and the burial site that honors the beloved redhead. He surprised me with a stopover in Jamestown on that trip, which was before the new National Comedy Museum opened in August of 2018. It was then that someone mentioned that we needed to come back for the "Lucy Fest" (as the locals call it) in August. It is held near her birthday, August 6, each year. The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, as it is officially called, runs Wednesday thru Sunday during the first full week of August. It generally features concert-type events by top-name comedians on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Some past participants have been: Jerry Seinfeld, Lilly Tomlin, Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan, Jay Leno, Nick Offerman, Amy Schumer, Paula Poundstone, Kevin James, Robert Klein and John Mullaney, just to name a few.
The 2020 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is scheduled on August 5-9. Which means, that the Thursday events will fall directly on Lucy's birthday. I'm sure there will be some special events planned for that day.
As for us this past year, we were invited to participate in the Saturday City Market during the festival. We opened our little Not So Long Trailer to the public so they could get a first hand look inside and we also did a few musical numbers during the four-hour market event. We met SO many avid Lucy fans, of course. And, everyone was very kind. We had one little incident where someone stole a small item from inside the camper, but nothing that couldn't be replaced. The store owners of Jamestown are always very accommodating and welcome us each year. We can't say enough nice things about the local small business operators of the town. The museum staff and comedy center staff are little less inviting, for some reason. We have never really figured that out. Perhaps they see us as a threat or something when we show up dressed as Lucy and Desi. It's a little strange that they generally just ignore us, but as I said, the rest of the town is most welcoming.
The following photos are some of the highlights of our trip to Jamestown for the 2019 festival.