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"John Prine Memorial Park at Rochester Dam" dedication set for October 1, 2022

Revamped county park will honor award-winning musician who penned "Paradise."

Muhlenberg County, Ky: Make plans to "travel down to Western Kentucky" as Muhlenberg County Fiscal Court and partners dedicate "John Prine Memorial Park at Rochester Dam at 2 p.m. on October 1, 2022.

The project honors the legacy of award-winning Hall-of-Fame singer/songwriter John Prine, who in 1970 penned the song "Paradise." The song - written for his father about the small town of Paradise on the banks of the Green River - is not only a love letter to the people of Western Kentucky, but also speaks of Prine's perceived ills of the effects of surface coal mining on people and landscapes.

"Paradise" - with the chorus "Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County" - solidified the legacy of the community in the hearts of music fans worldwide. Even though Prine was born in the suburbs of Chicago, he was a frequent visitor to Muhlenberg County, the longtime home of his parents and extended family.

Following Prine's death on April 7, 2020, fans began to make the pilgrimage to Rochester Dam to leave memorials to the singer, hearkening to his lyrics, "When I die let my ashes float down the Green River/Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam." His family later spread Prine's ashes from the Rochester Ferry, which crosses the river from Butler and Ohio counties.

The project includes a new boat ramp below the dam, an expanded parking area, a large picnic pavilion, updated playground equipment, paving, landscape improvements, and benches, with future amenities planned.

"The project really kicked off in 2019 when Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources awarded Fiscal Court a grant to replace the boat ramp," said Darrin Benton, Second District Magistrate, and park committee member. "After Mr. Prine's death, Fiscal Court was approached by Karen Harper Lain, C. Josh Givens, and Barry Duvall with a proposal to rename the existing park and update the resources. We are very proud of the progress and welcome our visitors for years to come."

The park's renaming has been accomplished with the blessing of the Prine family and Mr. Prine's Nashville label, Oh Boy! Records.

Partners who have contributed to the $160,000 project include Muhlenberg Fiscal Court, KDFWR, Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation, Muhlenberg County Tourism, and Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative.

Contractors and agencies providing services at the site include Legacy Steel Metals, Scotty's, Contracting & Stone, Arley Griffin, Standard Manufacturing Solutions, Muhlenberg County Road Department, and Muhlenberg County Detention Center. Committee members are Magistrates Darrin Benton and Malcolm West, Karen Harper Lain, C. Josh Givens, and Jamie Wells.

On the day of the event, there will is limited parking on-site, though parking and shuttle services will be provided from the Rochester Community Center and Rochester Ballpark in Butler County. While seating will be provided, visitors are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs in the event of an overflow. Local food trucks will be present and local musicians will present regional sounds. Portable restroom facilities are on-site.

"John Prine Memorial Park at Rochester Dam" is located on Kentucky Highway 70 at the Muhlenberg-Butler county line. The Rochester Community Center is on Main Street (visitors will turn at Kentucky Highway 369 from Kentucky 70).

For additional information, contact Karen Harper Lain at 270.993.8542 or the office of Muhlenberg County Judge Executive Curtis McGehee at 270.338.2520.


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