With Labor Day behind us and a “biting cold and snowy” winter to come – if the Farmers’ Almanac prediction proves correct – the clock is ticking for those of us who would like to see some of what Kentucky has to offer during the fall.
There certainly is no shortage of things to do, beginning with our own Jenny Wiley Festival, which will be held Oct. 9-12, with some related events scheduled before then.
This month, meanwhile, there is the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, which celebrates the fact that we’re home to 95 percent of the world’s production of this spirit; the World Chicken Festival in Laurel County, which is the birthplace of both Kentucky Fried Chicken and Lee’s Famous Recipe restaurants; and the Banana Festival in Fulton.
That last one might seem out of place at first glance, but it makes sense when considering that the far western Kentucky city played a pivotal role when railroads added refrigerated cars in the late 1800s to make it easier to transport perishable food.
Fulton was the only stop on the route between New Orleans and Chicago that had an ice house, and at one point, it was estimated that more than 70 percent of the bananas consumed in America went through the city.
The festival took off several decades ago when it was highlighted on national television, and it now features a one-ton banana pudding that organizers call the world’s largest.
If you decide to leave our part of the state for festivals like these, consider driving along at least one of the 20 roads that make up the Scenic Byway System, especially when the leaves begin to turn color.
Six of these roads have national designations, including our Country Music Highway, which winds past the early homes of such stars as the Judds, Loretta Lynn and Ricky Skaggs; Woodlands Trace, a 30-mile stretch that cuts through the Land Between the Lakes; and the Lincoln Heritage Scenic Highway in the more central part of the state, which features sites tied to our 16th President.
If you’re considering an overnight stay, there are dozens of bed and breakfasts scattered across the state that offer something unique and are often historic in their own right. Bardstown’s Old Talbott Tavern is one of the oldest, having been built in 1779 as the West’s first stagecoach stop in our country’s earliest days. President Lincoln, Jesse James and WWII General George Patton are among the famous citizens to have stayed there.
The Myrtledene Bed & Breakfast in Lebanon, meanwhile, was built 180 years ago, and it served as a Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s headquarters during part of the Civil War. History tells us that when he returned a year later to destroy the town, its owners raised a flag of truce.
Other popular stops on a trek across the state include some one-of-a-kind museums, such as the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park and Louisville’s Frazier History Museum, which covers more than a millenium’s worth of weaponry and other historical artifacts like Daniel Boone’s family Bible.
All of these examples are just a few of the hundreds that can be found across Kentucky. If you would like to know more, I encourage you to go online at www.kentuckytourism.com, which is run by the state’s Department of Travel. Two other sites include www.kyfestivals.com, to see what is happening on a given date, and www.kentuckyfarmsarefun.com, to learn more about some of the working farms open to tourists.
We may still be a couple of weeks away from the technical end of summer, but cooler temperatures, earlier sunsets and the start of football season tell us that fall is already well underway.
I encourage you and your family to get out in the weeks ahead and enjoy what our community and Commonwealth have. It’s something you’ll be glad you did if the winter does indeed turn out to be “biting cold and snowy.”