Home » State leasing amphitheater at My Old Kentucky Home State Park to Nelson County

State leasing amphitheater at My Old Kentucky Home State Park to Nelson County


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2018) – The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet announced today that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is leasing the amphitheater at My Old Kentucky Home State Park to the Nelson County Fiscal Court.

This agreement authorizes the Nelson County Fiscal Court to make required safety and structural repairs at the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheater. That venue has staged the Stephen Foster Story musical in Bardstown for 60 years.

“This is an example of what can be done when the state collaborates with local leadership to solve important challenges,” said Don Parkinson, secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.”The Stephen Foster musical is what our cabinet is all about. It is tourism. It is the arts, and it is certainly a big part of our state’s heritage.”

“A solution emphasizing local control is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Kentucky House of Representatives member Chad McCoy, “and serves as a model of how government best operates.”

Nelson County will now oversee the amphitheater and the area surrounding it. The county will not have management responsibilities for other amenities at My Old Kentucky Home State Park.

“The Commonwealth was excited to partner with State Representative Chad McCoy, Senator Jimmy Higdon, Judge Dean Watts and other community leaders in crafting this agreement,” said Donnie Holland, commissioner of Kentucky State Parks.

“It’s all about cooperation between the Tourism Cabinet, the Finance Cabinet and Fiscal Court. We were going down a path that had no return to it,” said Nelson County Judge Executive Dean Watts. “In the short term, we will make repairs to bring the theatre into code so we can get the show on this year. After the season is over, we are planning to re-do the entire stage area.”

The lease includes an initial five-year term with the option for two additional five-year terms. The maximum life of the lease is 15 years but includes an option to extend.

No financial terms were included as part of the lease agreement. The Nelson County Fiscal Court also has authority to sublease the theater upon repair.

“Thanks to the Governor’s Cabinet Secretaries for their help with this project. We all worked with the same goal in mind,” said Kentucky Senator Jimmy Higdon.  “The show must go on.”

The park’s amphitheater was closed on December 21, 2017 after a state inspection revealed hazardous electrical and structural issues at the facility.

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