- by Nikki Davis

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to do this weekend, check out the Jammin’ & Jumpin’ event in Henderson.

According to Keith Hobson, organizer and promoter, “It started on a hill side in Spottsville, KY. My son, Adam pole vaulted at Henderson Co. High school and Kevin [Ferguson] was his coach. During the summer, Adam, Chad Smith, Evan Pitt, and a few others would go to Kevin’s sister’s yard, where this very old discarded pit was located. Upon return from a pole vault camp where Kevin and the kids participated, Kevin showed me a flyer promoting a ‘Street Vault’ in California. I asked what that was and he explained its pole vaulting in the street during a festival. We talked about it a few times, and ultimately agreed to move forward with putting on the first ever street vault in Henderson, Ky.  Kevin approached Ken Christopher (Bluegrass in the Park Festival chairman) about adding our pole vault event to their festival, he agreed to it, so our quest began.   We knew we needed equipment, so we financed a loan together to purchase a new pit and standards and formed Spottsville Monsters track club (SM Track Club). We started the club so the area kids had a place to learn and practice pole vaulting with little expense to them. The Jammin’ & Jumpin’ Street Vault has been a way to help finance our club, give money to the high school’s track program, and provide free entertainment to the community.”

The event has been running for eight years now. In order to participate and be a pole vaulter, register online at www.smtrackclub.com. All ages and levels of expertise from beginner to Olympians will be competing over the weekend.

The event starts Friday night at 7:00 pm on August 8th “under the lights” featuring the “Masters.” This group of vaulters, men/women are 30 years of age and older, had pole vaulted in high school and/or college, and still love participating.

They return to action Saturday morning (Aug. 9th)

  • Check-In & Runway opens at 8:00 a.m.
  • Vaulters are grouped by starting heights
  • Group "A" Competition starts at 9:00 a.m.
  • Groups "B" & "C" will follow with a "ROLLING SCHEDULE." (Groups will be posted at www.smtrackclub.com)
  • The Pro-Elite pole vaulters competition will begin at 7:00 pm. Some of the best pole vaulters in the country will be competing “under the lights” for prize money.

According to Hobson, spectators can expect, “A very exciting weekend of pole vaulting on the Riverfront overlooking the Ohio River in downtown Henderson, KY.  Several Olympians will be competing.” He also shares that his favorite thing about the event is “watching the audience’s faces, young and old, when a vaulter runs down the runway takes off and jumps over a really high crossbar, that’s pretty cool.”

Lastly, Hobson states, “The Jammin’ & Jumpin’ Street Vault has evolved over the past eight years. After the first year,  Marcia Eblen of the tourist commission asked how can we make our event bigger—the answer was add a Pro-Elite competition with prize money. A few years later, we added Friday and Saturday nights to our event. The allure of watching the pole vaulters at night under the lights has been a big hit. The crowd continues to grow year after year. We have been fortunate to have past, present and future Olympians to come and compete at our event: Earl Bell, Jeff Hartwig, Jeremy Scott, Jillian Schwartz, April Steiner-Bennett, Becky Holliday Mark Hollis, Jordan Scott and Mary Saxer. We feel very blessed to have the support of our community and sponsors, along with our host families, officials and volunteers.”