Highway serves as Locklar memorial

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rex Locklar, pictured above, was a large advocate for the arts in Henderson. Locklar will have signs in his memory on Henderson Highway later this week.

Rex Locklar, pictured above, was a large advocate for the arts in Henderson. Locklar will have signs in his memory on Henderson Highway later this week.

A special event of the inaugural Rex Locklar Memorial Bluegrass Jamboree in Henderson this weekend will be a ceremony designating a stretch of the Henderson highway, the Rex Locklar Memorial Bluegrass Highway.

The ceremony and unveiling of the memorial road signs will be at noon Friday at the intersection of County Roads 2262 and 2254 near Springhill. All friends of Locklar and bluegrass music are invited.

Pike County Commissioners Joey Jackson and Ray Goodson spearheaded the efforts to name the highway that runs through Henderson, the site of Locklar’s biennial bluegrass festivals, in memory of Ole Rex.

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“Rex just did so much to promote bluegrass music and brought a lot of positive attention to Henderson and Pike County,” Jackson said. “He was known all over the country and people everywhere liked Ole Rex, as he called himself.

“The bluegrass pickers were the ones that suggested the highway be named in memory of Rex. Ray and I agreed. We got out and talked to folks to see what they thought and everybody we talked to thought it was a great idea.”

A petition favoring the naming of the highway in memory of Locklar was presented to the Pike County Commission and was approved.

“The naming of the highway is a good way to honor Rex Locklar and it’s a good thing for bluegrass and for Pike County,” Goodson said. “Rex was a friend to me, like he was to everybody else. As soon as you met Rex, you had a friend and, if you were around him long enough, you were family.”

Goodson said Locklar’s bluegrass festivals were good public relations events for Pike County.

“Any time you were around bluegrass music in Georgia, Florida, anywhere, and people found out you were from Pike County, they would ask about Rex,” Goodson said. “His festival brought a lot of people to Pike County two weeks out of the year. They spent money while they were here and that was good for all of us.”

After Locklar died in February 2014, there was some thought that the bluegrass festivals at Henderson might end.

“But I think the future of bluegrass at Henderson is bright,” Goodson said. “People came because of Rex Locklar and I think they’ll keep coming to keep his memory alive.”

The Rex Locklar Memorial Bluegrass Jamboree will get underway Thursday at the Henderson Music Park in Henderson and run through Saturday night.

RV campers began moving in Tuesday and the campsites are expected to at near capacity when the Jamboree gets in full swing.

“We’re expecting a big crowd for what will be the first Rex Locklar Memorial Bluegrass Jamboree,” said Shelby Cargile, an event organizer. “After this year, the Jamboree will be an annual event the second week in April. It will be held in memory of Ole Rex who held bluegrass festival at the music park for 44 years. We want to keep Ole Rex’s memory alive and keep playing the music he loved.”

Admission to the memorial bluegrass jamboree is by donation. All donations will be used for improvements to the Henderson Music Park. RV camping is $12 per night.