The late Alice "Dolly" McNutt got an idea for a celebration she felt would fit with Paducah. Fifty years later, she obviously was right.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Paducah Dogwood Trail, and the Paducah Civic Beautification Board hopes the town turns out in full bloom.
As part of the Dogwood Trail Celebration, participating Paducah residents light dogwoods and other flowering plants in their yards. Civic Beautification Board member Dabney Haugh said the slogan for this year's trail is "Light up Paducah! Shine for the 50th!"
The trail celebration usually takes place in April when the dogwoods are in bloom, but this year's dates haven't been set.
"The start of the trail is flexible... We have to rely on Mother Nature for that," Haugh said.
However, a few community events related to the trail have been scheduled.
The Paducah School of Art and Design will sponsor the 2014 Dogwood Art and Photography Contest. Entries can be submitted from March 24 through March 27 and will be judged on March 28.
Haugh said it has been a few years since the art contest was part of the Dogwood Trail Celebration, but the board revived it for the 50th anniversary.
The art school will choose three winning photographs and three winning artworks, Haugh said, which will be displayed in the mayor's office in April, May and June as part of the Mayor's Art Club exhibit.
Haugh said the annual dogwood tree sale affiliated with the trail will be April 12 at six local nurseries: Blooms 'n' Gardens, Eads Garden Center, Edwards Nursery, James Sanders Nursery, Montgomery Gardens, and Wahl's Landscape and Garden Shoppe.
On April 13, Bike World will host a bike ride along parts of the trail, which Haugh said will begin at the store on Joe Clifton Drive at 2:30 p.m.
Paducah Civic Beautification Board member Carol Vanderboegh created 400 hand-painted commemorative pins to celebrate the trail's semicentennial. Haugh said the signed, dated pins will be sold at Grace Episcopal Church on March 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $10 for unembellished pins and $15 for pins featuring crystal embellishments.
"It was a labor of love," Haugh said of Vanderboegh's work, "and she just did a beautiful job."
The Paducah Dogwood Trail began in 1964, at the recommendation of McNutt, then chairwoman of the Paducah Civic Beautification Board. McNutt later was elected a city commissioner, mayor and to the Kentucky House of Representatives. McNutt, Haugh explained, loved a similar dogwood trail in Knoxville, Tenn., and wanted to create something similar in Paducah.
Haugh said the trail was originally two blocks long on Sycamore Drive and is now 10 miles long. She added that the people of Paducah really make the Dogwood Trail what it is.
The board presents dogwood awards each year to participants both on and off the trial, and Haugh said the semicentennial celebration will feature new awards, including a "baby dogwood" award for young trees, a "grand old dogwood" award for mature trees, an award for trees in the yards of local churches or businesses, and the Dolly McNutt award, which will be a best in show award.
Haugh said winners will receive a certificate, a framed photo of their winning tree and a young dogwood tree for replanting.
Haugh said anyone in Paducah is eligible for an award, but trees must be lighted at night to be considered. She said people can also light other flowering plants in their yards, as well as American flags and doorways. She said people are especially encouraged to participate this year, because the trail was recently included by Luxury Travel Magazine on a list of spring flower festivals the publication recommended.
"I think we're going to have some extra visibility because of that magazine article," Haugh said. "And I just think it would be wonderful if people on and off trail will light up."
Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.