Kentucky Derby 2020: At Home Celebrations

August 28, 2020

JC Phelps, II

Hey, y’all! The Kentucky Derby is my favorite holiday — and always will be. While this is a nontraditional racing year and fans are not allowed at the track, my shine won’t be dulled: I’m celebrating Kentucky Derby 2020 at home with Ale-8-One!

The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs – and, really, the entire week of – is the finest showing of sweet, southern, Kentucky culture. While it won’t be the same, I do think that these tips and recipes will help make this year one to remember for you and your loved ones!

Party Preparation

There are many facets of a successful Kentucky Derby party. However, there are a few things that need to be considered: the outfit (hats!), the decor (all things equestrian! oh, and roses!), the menu, and the cocktails (Ale-8 is the perfect mixer!).

My favorite tip? Serve all drinks in vintage (and current year) Derby glasses. I pick mine up throughout the year at yard sales, Goodwills, and thrift stores. They certainly bring the southern charm factor!

Tell me: do you prefer traditional hats or fascinators? I’m curious!

I purchase most all of my party needs each year at my local Kroger. They are a true one-stop shop for all things Derby. The best part? You can even pick up your Ale-8-One there. Be sure to look out for the limited-edition, commemorative Derby packaging on the shelves. I look forward to it each and every year!

Kentucky Derby 2020: At Home Celebrations Guide

Kentucky Derby Party Menu: Food

The most important part of a successful Kentucky Derby party? The food.

Kick things off with my pimento cheese – which I appropriately call “Better Than MeeMaw’s Pimento Cheese”, as it’s lip-smackin’ good.

Read the entire artcile here!

‘Winchester’s living room’ revamps, reopens with new owners, new pizzas, same comfort


Chad T. Walker and his wife, Jill, have a combination of affection and memories tied up in their new downtown Winchester dining spot, The Engine House Pub and Pizza Parlour.

Jill worked at the location as a server in high school and college. And being the site of Winchester’s longest-running restaurant, the 135-year-old property and former firehouse has a special place in each of their hearts.

When the couple purchased the property in Jan. 2020, they found out other people felt the same way.

“People are coming in saying, ‘when I was 12 years old and I ate in that back booth,’” Chad said. “It’s funny how many people come in. It’s like a ‘Field of Dreams’ scenario.”

When the Walkers think back, they remember the restaurant most fondly when it was the Engine House Deli, owned by Bob Tabor. The restaurant has been through several owners and incarnations in its history as a go-to eating spot, eventually switching to pizza but never switching off its charm with diners.

“It was kind of a passion project and we didn’t want to see it torn down or turned into a law firm or something,” said Chad, who also works in real estate with his wife.

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More than a mint julep. You’ll definitely want to try these at-home Kentucky Derby recipes

Kirby AdamsLouisville Courier Journal

The 146th Kentucky Derby will be one like no other. With the Churchill Downs announcement that it’s shutting down the infield and limiting fans to less than 23,000, the majority of people will be watching the (delayed) Run for the Roses from the safety of their homes on Saturday, Sept. 5.

That means 2020 will be the year of the at-home Kentucky Derby party. If you’re looking for inspiration, Louisville entertaining mavens Peggy Noe Stevens and Susan Reigler have written a book filled with entertaining ideas and recipes called “Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon?” (Find it locally at Carmichael’s Bookstore for $30).

It includes traditional Southern cocktails and appetizers that will take your 2020 Kentucky Derby party up a notch, from nontraditional mint juleps to everything from Kentucky classic Benedictine to cheese grits and corn pudding. (Plus, try the bonus recipe below from Kentucky’s own Ale-8-One.)

Be sure if you are hosting a small at-home Kentucky Derby party that you’re observing any restrictions put in place by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, that you and your guests are observing safe social distancing and above all, don’t forget your mask.

Happy Derby, everyone. 

Traditional mint julep

The traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep, is a must at any home Derby party.

1 serving

  • 1-ounce simple syrup
  • 3 to 5 fresh mint leaves plus a fresh sprig for garnish
  • 3-ounces Kentucky bourbon
  • Crushed ice

To make the simple syrup, add 2 cups of granulated sugar to 1 cup of boiling water. Cool, bottle and refrigerate. You can do this the day before the party.

To make the julep, place the simple syrup and mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup or glass. Muddle. Add bourbon and stir.

Fill to the brim with crushed ice, add a long straw and garnish with a mint spring. 

Note: if you are using mint-infused bourbon, don’t use the muddled mint leaves. 

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Mint julep variations

Peggy Noe Stevens suggests mixing bathes of the cocktails you will serve at your Kentucky Derby party ahead of time. During the COVID-19 outbreak this is especially important because it helps to keep guests from touching multiple bottles if they were to make their own drinks.

Spice up your traditional mint julep offerings with these four unique twists on the classic cocktail: 

Pineapple Julep: Muddle a tablespoon of chopped fresh pineapple with mint leaves and use 2-ounces of bourbon and 1-ounce of pineapple juice.

Strawberry Julep: Add 3 fresh chopped strawberries to the bottom of the glass along with the mint and syrup and muddle.

Chocolate Julep: No muddling needed here. Simply combine 2-ounces Kentucky bourbon, 1-ounce white crème de menthe, and 1-ounce dark crème de cacao; shake over ice, and pour into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Peach-Basil Julep: Use fresh basil leaves and a split vanilla bean to make the simple syrup. Add two 5 ½-ounce cans of peach nectar to the syrup. Muddle a peach slice instead of mint.

Dark and Bloody Bourbon Mary

The Bloody Mary cocktail is an afternoon tradition on Derby day. A nice drink to break up an afternoon of Mint Juleps.

1 serving

  • 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, paprika mix
  • 2-ounces bourbon
  • 2 large lemon wedges
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can (6-ounces) tomato juice

To prepare the seasoning mix, combine in a mortar one part each smoked sea salt, smoked black pepper and smoked paprika. Finely crush with a pestle and shake together in a jar. 

To a pint glass or a large mason jar filled with ice, add the bourbon, squeeze and drop in the lemon wedges and add 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix and Worcestershire sauce. Shake. Add more ice and the tomato juice. Shake again.

Garnish with a long straw and baby corn, large pitted black olive and cherry pepper, all on a stick. 

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Ale-8 has brought back their horse racing themed packaging for the Kentucky Derby

Ale-8-One has brought back its traditional horse racing themed Kentucky Derby packaging this month. For your themed at-home party, enjoy the Kentucky-born beverage on its own or as a mixer. 

  • 2 teaspoons Ale-8 infused simple syrup
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • Crushed ice
  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • 1 bottle Ale-8

Gently muddle simple syrup and mint leaves in a silver julep cup. Fill the cup with crushed ice. Add bourbon and fill the cup with Ale-8. Garnish with a sprig of mint.


Benedictine spread is a Louisville original.
  • 3 tablespoons cucumber juice 1 tablespoon onion juice
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 teaspoon salt
  • A few grains cayenne pepper, 2 drops green food coloring

To obtain the juice, peel and grate a cucumber, wrap it in a clean dish towel, and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Discard the pulp. Do the same with the onion. Mix all the ingredients with a fork until well blended. Do not use a blender; it will make the spread too runny.

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Cheese Grits

Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs separated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a heavy saucepan, bring 2 ½ cups of salted water to boil and add the grits. 

Simmer over medium heat stirring constantly for about 20 minutes. Stir in the butter and remove from the heat. Add the cheese, cayenne and egg yolks. Cover and set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and stir them into the grits. Pour the mixture into a 1-quart buttered baking dish and back 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Corn Pudding

Serves 8-10

  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 8 cans)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 eggs, beaten 
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Process 1 cup of corn in a food processor until ground. Combine the ground corn, the remaining 3 cups of corn kernels, sugar, flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and mix well. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, and half and half in a bowl until blended and stir into the corn mixture. Add the butter and mix well.

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Pour the mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake for 40 minutes, or unit a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. You can substitute frozen corn for fresh. 

How Winchester’s Thompson Catering pivoted to combat COVID downturn

BY ALEX SLITZ  AUGUST 11, 2020, 4:55 PM

Thompson Catering and Special Events is offering a selection of to-go family meals and prepared food to its customers as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Some meals include chicken and dumplings, hot brown casserole and hot dog chili.

To finsihing the article click the link below:

Local Jobs, Local Wealth and a Fix for Climate Change

Local Jobs, Local Wealth and a Fix for Climate Change

July 31, 2020

By Mark Green

Laura Ann Freeman sets the bar high for her seventh-generation, 1,500-acre family farm near Winchester: Make it the linchpin of a new, self-supporting hyperlocal agriculture economy that creates jobs and wealth, while also showing that regenerative land management practice sequesters carbon to reverse climate change.

Upon proving the model in Clark County, she aims to seed it across Kentucky, and then the nation, before scaling up worldwide to solve the global warming.

Yes, to recap, the goal is to create jobs and wealth in rural Kentucky, build an alternative to the industrial agribusiness economic system, and remove the existential threat posed by greenhouse gases.

“I was late to the climate discussion,” said Freeman. “But if the models are correct, we are in for a catastrophe—soon.”

To prevent that and to help the county where her family has lived and farmed since the late 1700s, Freeman dreamt up and is now executing a self-supporting cyclic agribusiness plan to: sustain local farming; create local businesses to buy the livestock and crops from the farm; create local jobs; create local wealth via a parent company that awards stock to employees; and use organic farming techniques that improve the soil by sequestering atmospheric carbon there.

To read the entire article click here!


Flexibility, Diversity & Direct-to-Consumer Sales Winning Strategies

by Noah Cohen, Organic Farmers Association

Jul 14, 2020

Despite uncertainty at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020—as restaurants, schools, and other institutions shuttered to a close—many organic farms have been bright spots of the COVID-19 economy. Nearly every organic category has seen year-over-year sales gains since March, and, with the pandemic radically reshaping consumer behavior, that growth could continue. Steve Lutz, senior VP of strategic insights firm Category Partners, says consumers are prioritizing immune health more than ever before, and expects this newfound focus to have a “lasting impact” on their spending habits.

Meanwhile, safety-conscious consumers are more wary about who is touching their food, driving direct-to-consumer sales such as CSAs. Even while COVID-19 has presented many challenges, these shifting consumer priorities have created new opportunities for farmers—particularly organic farmers, who can market themselves as a healthy choice, and has benefited farmers that can sell direct-to-consumer or had diverse markets already established. Here’s how a handful of organic farmers (members of the Organic Farmers Association) from around the country have fared:

Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY

Farm Facts: Mt. Folly Farm sells organic grains, hemp, pastured beef, chicken, and pork with “a local, shortened supply chain.”

Experience: “The biggest challenge we had was shutting down our farm-to-table restaurant” mid-March due to COVID restrictions, Freeman says. Immediately, she recouped by turning the restaurant into a “farm grocery store” for her farm-to-table market products. “We took out all the tables, put in coolers, and started selling beef and early spring crops.” Unlike many of her beef-farming neighbors, Freeman has “gone local,” which she says has made her relatively immune to processing chain disruptions. “We have a small USDA beef and lamb packer who is open, though now absolutely swamped,” she explains.

Takeaways: Freeman says going local has helped her “pivot” to meet COVID-era realities by “creating a food system we can watch and manage safely.” “We are small and committed, with a great team spirit,” she adds. Further buoying Mt. Folly, like many local organic farms, was its permanent staff of 25 employees, who “became cross-trained on all sorts of projects… from salesmen and saleswomen helping the distiller, to chefs working in the garden.”

To read the entire artclie click here!

Breweries able to remain open and optimistic about future

Bars across the state have shut their doors for two weeks, following orders from the Governor. However, some breweries remain open and grateful for the opportunity.

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) — Bars across the state have shut their doors for two weeks, following orders from the Governor. However, some breweries remain open and grateful for the opportunity.

The Abettor Brewing Company in Winchester is just one taking advantage of the open sign remaining on.

The Governor says breweries are considered venues since they sell what they make. Bars generally sell what they have sent-in. Breweries will be required to fall in line with the same capacity mandate of restaurants at 25%. Some bars have started selling foods to qualify as a restaurant and in turn able to stay open.

Tyler Montgomery, the owner of Abettor Brewing Company, says 2020 has not been easy but it will make his business stronger in the end.

“We could have never foreseen we would have to do this,” said Montgomery. “We thought the hardest thing would be making the beer and getting people to come inside and taste our beer. Now we have to go through different guidelines and every business has to overcome something so if we can overcome this and come out on the other side, there’s nothing that can hold us back.”

Abettor Brewing Company can only allow 16 people inside with the latest mandate but can allow the full capacity in the outside seating areas — as long as guests remain socially distanced. Masks have been also required when walking around the brewery and ordering a drink.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

North Main lights up: Parking lot project nearly finished

By Randy Patrick

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Published 11:14 am Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Last summer, the city parking lot on the east side of North Main Street next to Harper’s Pawn & Jewelry was overgrown and unremarkable.

Today, it’s ready to become a venue for festivals, concerts or car shows.

The space has antique-style lamp posts, a light canopy and plenty of electrical outlets for events.

The transformation is a collaboration of the city government, Rimar Electric, the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), Main Street Winchester and the Beer Cheese Festival committee, which provided $20,000 toward the costs.

The work was mostly finished two weeks ago, except for some landscaping that will be done by UK’s Winchester Design Studio downtown.

Winchester City Councilman Ramsey Flynn said that right after he was elected, he brought up the issue of overgrown bushes in the parking lot, and other city officials wanted them taken out. Public works employees took care of the cleanup.

He and a group that included City Commissioner Kitty Strode, Meredith Guy, Sherry Richardson and former Main Street Winchester Director Rachel Alexander got the idea for the overhead light canopy from similar canopies over alleys in Nashville and Hamburg Pavilion in Lexington.

Jenny Bailey and others with the Beer Cheese Festival agreed to fund it.

Guy, who chairs the design committee, gives Richardson of Howard’s Overhead Doors much of the credit.

“It was all kind of her baby,” she said. “She came up with all the ideas to redo the parking lot,” and she and Flynn started the remodeling.

“We’re trying to create an outdoor place where people can gather and where they want to gather … and that parking lot seems like a great location,” Guy said.

The city also wanted to address the issue of crime in the area, Flynn said.

“I had a retired state trooper tell me you can landscape crime away because it doesn’t feel welcome,” Flynn said.

Flynn said discussions about improving the lot began last November, but the project was delayed by weather until June.

Guy said that in addition to landscaping, the UK landscape architecture team also had plans for an interactive Twister game on the lot, but that was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said the group wants to get George Rogers Clark High School students involved in that part of the project.

Flynn says the refurbished lot is a nice addition to North Main, that will bring more events to the area.

He said the space now has “plenty of electric” for food trucks, a concert stage, festival booths or whatever.

“We did it right. We didn’t cut any corners,” he said.

Now, Flynn said, there is some discussion of paving the alley behind the parking lot from Washington Street to Broadway and doing something to slow the traffic there, especially now that there is a new day care on the block.

Besides the day care, there is a new Italian restaurant and another restaurant planned across the street, and Wildcat Willy’s is around the corner and across the alley. Leeds Center for the Arts also has plans for expansion, including a new rear entrance.

Things are looking up down on North Main, the Flynn said.

In summer without festivals, travel showing signs of growth

By Fred Petke

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Published 11:12 am Tuesday, July 21, 2020

In a summer decimated by the effects of the coronavirus, the local tourism industry has been seeing a little growth and local interest.

Nancy Turner, director of the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission, said hotel occupancy rates are still very low, but it has been picking up in recent weeks.

“We’re seeing an increase in business travel,” Turner said. “We were at an all-time low of 12 percent (occupancy) in mid-March. We’re up to 41 percent in occupancy. We’re down 45 percent from where we were last year.”

The virus and fear of spreading it further led organizers to cancel a number of traditional summer events including the Beer Cheese Festival, the Clark County Fair and the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival, which routinely brought thousands of people to town.

People are still traveling to visit family and friends, but the numbers are still down.

“It’s totally different with the lack of festivals and the lack of events,” she said.

People feel safer outside, she said, which is part of why locations such as Clark County’s Civil War Fort have been seeing crowds grow this summer.

“Our outdoor dining is popular, and carry-out is still popular,” she said. “Sadly, they closed Lower Howard’s Creek.”

Turner said she is not expecting tourism to really begin to rebound until next year.

“Research shows visitors are truly skeptical … until at least spring of 2021,” she said.

Business travelers, she said, are looking for consistency in where they travel, particularly in terms of health regulations.

“They want to travel safely,” she said. “They want to know what’s waiting when they arrive.”

More states, including Kentucky, have been adding mandatory mask regulations.

“As numbers rise everywhere, more and more states are mandating masks,” she said. “I think, overall, masks are effective.”

McCANN: Summer arts in Winchester and elsewhere around Kentucky

By Winchester Sun

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Published 9:23 am Friday, July 17, 2020

Summer arts and theatre activities have been mighty scarce this summer because of the pandemic and its affiliated social distancing requirements.

But gradually, the arts are making a reappearance.

Local and regional artists including Kendra Sexton, Karlee Grissam, Brandy Shumake, Dakotah Kat Brown and others will have their art displayed at Leeds Center for the Arts. 

In keeping with social distancing requirements the art will be displayed outside in the “coming attractions” windows.

Brown said that she had been approached by Leeds Board President Tracey Miller about an art exhibit on the topics of Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+  pride. The exhibit opens today and is available to all who walk past Leeds on North Main.

Leeds to produce zine

Leeds may be best known for its plays and musicals, but because of COVID-19, the arts organization is striking out in a new direction and producing an online literary magazine, a zine.

Called “Creativity in Quarantine” they are accepting submissions of art, photography, poetry, short stories, essays and more.

Deadline for submissions is July 31. For more information visit their Facebook page:

LexArts gallery hop tonight

LexArts is having one of its traditional gallery hops in a nontraditional way: online.

You can be healthy at home and still enjoy some of the region’s best artists without taking a hike around downtown Lexington tonight.

This is not the usual way to enjoy art, but it is convenient.

To take part, visit their website at for more information.

‘Hazard County’ to be produced in Somerset

Flashback Theater is closing out its 2019-20 season with “Hazard County” by Allison Moore, at the newly constructed, open air Lake Cumberland Farmers Market on East Mt. Vernon Street in Somerset this weekend, July 17-19.

Flashback’s original plans for the production were impacted by COVID-19, including the plan to produce in  Flashback’s Black Box Theater in April and May.

Instead, the production team has worked with the non-profit’s board to create a plan for performances that follow Social Distancing guidelines.

“Hazard County” tells the story of what happens when a young producer stumbles into town looking for stories and a fresh start.

He believes he’s found both in Ruth. Her made-for-TV tale captures his attention – a broke young widow in a rural Kentucky town, unable to access the trust fund set up for her children after her husband’s murder.

But neither of them has told the other the whole truth, and a past tainted by racism threatens to destroy Ruth’s already shaky existence.

This story is interspersed with memorable monologues from fans and critics of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” who blow apart the Southern stereotypes that tend to define Ruth’s world.

Performances are at 7 p.m. July 17 and July 18 and 2:30 p.m. July 19. Reservations are not required.

This is a pay-what-you-can performance; donations of $10 to $20 are requested.

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Clark County sees increase in tourism, asks for caution in summer travels

by WDKY News StaffSaturday, July 18th 2020

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WDKY) – — If you have recently cancelled a trip to a hot tourist destination because of COVID-19, finding an adventure close to home might be your next option.

Clark County, Winchester Tourism Director Nancy Turner says when the pandemic made its way to the bluegrass it ended their run for a record breaking season of tourists. Since then, vacations have been cancelled and more Kentuckians are starting to get out and see what else is on the table.

“The visitor research shows that visitors are planning to travel,” Turner told WKYT’s Nick Oliver. “They are not comfortable taking a lot of transit systems, but they are willing to drive and drive further distances.”

Turner says the increase has been seen in the county and is hopeful it will remain as uncertainty with the growing number of cases loom. She says the pandemic has provided numbers that show nothing to brag about, but now is showing something the public should feel good seeing.

“Growth is growth,” said Turner. “We are grateful to see some folks traveling and staying in Winchester.”

Winchester was hit hard when the tough decisions was made to cancel the Beer Cheese Festival and the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival later this fall — both events drawing thousands to the small town. However, Turner is seeing new numbers in small business and visits to popular spots like the Civil War Fort at Boonesboro.

As Kentuckians know, COVID-19 can’t be ignored. It’s the reason Turner is asking the public to think when traveling to other communities.

“I think that wearing a mask not only provides confidence to the traveler but it also provides confidence to the small businesses which are receiving that traveler and also citizens in the community,” said Turner.

She encourages others to reach out to their local tourism commission for ideas on the next Kentucky adventure.

Main Street Winchester earns 2020 national accreditation By Winchester Sun

By Winchester Sun

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Published 11:04 am Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Main Street Winchester has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America program by the National Main Street Center, which recognizes communities across the country that are working to restore their historic downtowns, bringing life back to city centers that were often left behind by sprawling commercial development in the second half of the 20th century.

Kentucky Main Street is a program of the Kentucky Heritage Council, the State Historic Preservation Office, an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

Kentucky has the oldest Main Street program in the nation.

Main Street America has 10 “Standards of Performance” that it requires to be met before accrediting a program, among them that it “has broad-based community support for the commercial district revitalization process, with strong support from both the public and private sectors,” and that it “possesses a historic preservation ethic.”

Kentucky Main Street Coordinator Kitty Dougoud said, “Whenever you see a Kentucky Main Street sign or logo associated with a community you can be assured that something special is happening there.”

In 2019, Main Street Winchester worked to enhance, promote and preserve the vitality and livability of Downtown Winchester through some of the projects listed below:

— Promote downtown development with the Downtown Development Investment Fund.

— Increase pedestrian foot traffic with engaging promotions such as Rock The Block, Sip And Stroll, Christmas parade and the annual Beer Cheese Festival.

“We are proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”