The park project began as an idea, which grew into a dream to build the Colonel, by the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission Board in 2009. Suzie Razmus, chairperson of the Tourism Commission at the time, envisioned a tourism attraction on Main Street where one of Corbin’s most famous citizens could be honored, and where guests and citizens alike could take advantage of all that downtown Corbin has to offer. The Friends of the Colonel, Inc was set up that same year as a 501 C 3 charitable organization that would raise the money needed to commission an artist to create and sculpt a life size bronze statue of the Colonel. Yum Brands gave their consent and support of the installation of the statue in July of 2009.
Sanders Park was built through several different funding mechanisms, the largest portion coming from the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission budget. The Friends of Colonel Sanders, Inc received several generous donations from private individuals, organizations and corporations, and raised most of the funds needed for the bronze statue through the sale of memorial plaques, bricks and pavers which are all on display at the park. There were also two notable grants awarded to assist with the building of the park and the purchase of the signature statue of the Colonel, which serves as the parks centerpiece. In May of 2010, Corbin Main Street was awarded a $20,000 by Tour South East Kentucky, now known as Southern & Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association, to fund the building of Sanders Park. In the fall of 2014, the Honorable Order of the KY Colonels awarded an $8,000 grant to be used towards the purchase of the statue.
In October of 2010, the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission purchased property on Main Street to begin the development of the park. The property the park is built on is actually the former location of Newberry’s Department Store and Cox’s House of furniture. The official groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the park was held in March of 2011, and the “Secret Recipe Garden” was also installed at this time.
The park was constructed by the following companies: Laurel Gardens, Alsip Construction, E.G. & K. Construction Co. Inc., Everlasting Gates Inc. and Monhollen Electric. The Corbin City Utilities Commission and Corbin Public Works Department were also integral partners in the construction of the park. Several of the bricks, which make up the foundation of the park, were installed by students from the masonry technology program at Somerset Community College in 2012. The bronze statue was sculpted and installed by Louisville artist Raymond Graff. Special commemorative bronze plaques were created and installed by the Lexington based PROMETHEUS Art Bronze Foundry & Studios, and bricks and pavers were provided by Monument Services, a Corbin based company.
This history is what has brought us all here today in celebration, the fruition of a dream.
“I think a dream is just a suggestion to start something out, do something.” – Colonel Harland Sanders