What I did on my summer vacation

Pitched a tent along water’s edge and watched the sun rise each morning.

Paddled 450 million years back in time to a cliff-lined gorge hiding caves and harboring rare plants.

Learned how to dip candles the way the pioneers did near the original site where Daniel Boone built a fort.

Spent family time sharing ghost stories around the campfire and making memories beneath the stars.

This could be how your travel journey reads at summer’s end with visits to some of Winchester’s favorite vacation getaways. Here are four:

Red River Boat Dock and Campground: Laidback, leisurely and lots of fun—the kind of place made for families longing to escape for a long weekend that combines together time with downtime. This peaceful retreat spread out along the shoreline of the Red River offers tent sites, RV hookups and air-conditioned cabins and plenty of active fun: camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, cornhole tournaments and more. But when it’s time for peace and quiet, there’s plenty of that, too.

Continue reading What I did on my summer vacation

Summer sweeps into the vineyard, bringing interactive fun with it

Sunshine, good friends, chilled wine. Summer has arrived at the vineyard and Harkness Edwards Vineyard is celebrating with a lineup of hands-on classes designed to show off the season’s attributes—colorful flowers and sun-loving succulent plants, fresh-made jam to pair with coffee for those porch-sitting mornings and painting a posey with inspiration cued up by the vineyards’ beautiful setting. 

Continue reading Summer sweeps into the vineyard, bringing interactive fun with it

Mystery at the Museum: What treasure links two opposing Civil War families?

On the second floor of the Bluegrass Heritage Museum in the Williams-Holloway Room, a battered 161-year-old heirloom sheltered within a glass case connects two families who were on opposing sides of the Civil War.

James H. Holloway was a colonel in the Union Army who fought with Ulysses S. Grant. Molly Williams, who lived with her family on a farm called The Pines in Clark County, was the daughter of a general in the Confederate Army, John S. Williams—who would later become a U.S. senator—and his wife, Ann. Eventually James and Molly met, fell in love and married.

Fortunately, this family drama did not play out like the Capulets and Montagues, or to put a Kentucky spin on it, the Hatfields and McCoys. Rather, following the war the families united as one and peace prevailed between them. In fact, James and Molly lived at The Pines—Ann’s family home.

Among the portraits (including one of Williams), bullets, buttons, buckles and other Civil War memorabilia on the walls and in the cases in the Williams-Holloway Room are personal effects that belonged to James, including his Union coat.

Another is a black leather-bound diary that James kept during his time fighting for the Union, from 1860 to 1863. In the journal, James recorded his thoughts about the battle at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, which fell on February 6, 1862, and at Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, which took place February 13 to 16 of that same year.

Both rivers were key to the success in the Western Theater. For the Union Army, a win would mean forcing the Confederacy to give up southern Kentucky and much of Middle and West Tennessee. Both battles, led by Grant, were decisive victories for the Union and immediately thrust the general into the national spotlight.

It was also something of a milestone for Col. James Holloway.

In his diary James wrote: “At Fort Donelson on Feb 15, 1862, in presence of General Grant and staff, with my company I was ordered to intercept Col Forest who attempted with his regiment of cavalry to cut their way out south through our lines. We succeeded in turning them back and with this incident and other successful action in 50 battles General Grant brevetted me Major.”

The diary provides a soldier’s factual but personal perspective about moments in the Civil War—both significant and every day—and the role he played in those moments. For instance, James also writes of pursuing John Hunt Morgan into Ohio. Morgan, the Confederate general who raised the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment and fought at Shiloh, launched a raid in Kentucky in 1862. In the case of James’ pursuit, Morgan escaped along with many of his men.

The James H. Holloway Diary is considered such a treasure that it has been transcribed and published. The book ($16) is sold exclusively in the museum’s gift shop. For more information about this Civil War diary and other treasures to be found at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum, visit Museum hours: 12-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Admission: $5/adults; $2/ages 6-18 and seniors.

Winchester Wonderings – March 2024

Think Pink!

With National Barbie Day celebrated on March 9 and “Barbie” the movie vying for eight Oscars during the Academy Awards presentation on March 10, the iconic fashionista and arbiter of all things pink is clearly the toast of the town this month.

Here’s how to embrace your Barbiecore and still be Kenough in Winchester:

1: Polish off some pink: Don’t even try to resist the Decadent Pink Champagne Petit Fours at Cupcake Apothecary, perfect squares of fluffy pink champagne cake filled with silky sweet vanilla buttercream and topped with a gorgeous frosting bouquet. Look like something Barbie would love to pretend to eat? Yes! But you can enjoy every sinfully delicious crumb of this confection. Pick one up at the shop or pre-order. Bite into one of Frank’s Donuts’ freshly baked yeast donuts covered in pink frosting and topped with sprinkles. Playful and multidimensional. Just like Barbie.

2: Browse for Barbies at Winchester Peddlers Mall. And not just for dolls—although there are lots of those to be found. Shoppers with a keen eye will might come across Barbie accessories like the Barbie Jeep and the coveted fold-up Barbie Vacation House, too.

3: Power up your pink: The world’s most famous plastic blonde has a bit of sass, to be sure. And the shop, A Bit of Sass Boutique, has plenty of it, too. Not only on the walls and door, but in jewelry and handbags as well as tops and tees with fun sayings and designs in pink—like the “Mama” tee-shirt accented with brow cow spots.

4: Elevate your Kenergy: If, like Ken, you’re lucky enough to do “just beach” as your job, then you’ll need the right accessory. Rock shades like the guy who told Barbie she needed someone who is a professional in beach: The Ray-Ban Elliot Sunglasses in black, available at Hibbitt Sports, have all the Ken vibes and more.

5: Gather up your friend group for an “Every night is girls’ night” outing at Created By You Studio or sign up for one of the shop’s events and paint a piece of your own customized pottery or create a unique art piece with resin over a mixed media canvas.

6 : Clink Pink – Harkness Edwards Vineyards has several rosé wines, including bestselling Danger Blush, as captivatingly sweet as Barbie and equally as complex, its pink hue suggesting the promise of warmer days. At Hamon Haven, the sweet red June’s Blend also hints of summer days and Barbie’s empowering ways.

Winchester Wanderings – Feb 2024

Winchester Wanderings

February blog

Celebrate Black History Month Moments

In celebration of Black History Month, the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee will be posting Black History Moments on its website throughout the month of February.

Here are two moments:

Between the Lines Book Club

Read the book, The Untold History from Slave Ship to Horse Racing, by Winchester native Wallace Howard, then join the discussion at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 10, at the Clark County Public Library. The facilitator is James Robinson. Howard will be in attendance for a Q&A session.

Fanny Cole at Holly Rood 

In 1840s Kentucky it was virtually impossible for a Black woman to accumulate meaningful financial assets, even if she was among the small minority that was no longer enslaved—yet Fanny Cole did just that. See “Fanny Cole: A Most Enterprising Woman,” portrayed by Jane Burnam, at Holly Rood. Performance at 6 p.m. on February 20.

Check the website for updates. In the meantime, experience more Black History moments at these Winchester attractions:

African American Heritage Trail

Open year-round, the trail presents eight educational signs in downtown Winchester that highlight significant people and places of the African American community, including these:

  • West Washington Street, locally known as “Bucktown,” was the center of Black businesses and social life in Winchester.
  • After starring in football, basketball and baseball at Oliver High, Robert Arthur Brooks played his senior year at Winchester High. In this first year of integrated schools, he led the football and basketball teams to their first winning seasons in many years. He made Little All American in football at Ohio University and went on to play for the New York Titans in the American Football League.
  • In 1953, Coach Joe Gilliam, with William Didlick, Emmett Menifee, Walter Mack, Walter Newell and Harvey Robinson, organized the Winchester Little League for African American youth at Harmon Field.

Learn about these significant figures and landmarks and others on the African American Heritage Trail. Find more details and personal recollections on the Winchester Black History and Heritage website.

Bluegrass Heritage Museum

When the museum reopens in March for the season, plan to visit the second floor to learn about Peter Bruner (1845-1938), author of A Slave’s Adventures Toward Freedom: Not Fiction but the True Story of a Struggle. Born into slavery, Bruner ran away to Camp Nelson and enlisted in the army.

Bruner was assigned to the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery and engaged in combat in Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War. After the war, he moved to Oxford, Ohio, and published his autobiography. Read Bruner’s story here. Learn more about his accomplishments, including being proclaimed Mayor for the Day, at the museum.

Civil War Fort at Boonesboro

In 1863, African American Union soldiers built the Civil War Fort at Boonesboro, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These soldiers also took control of the fort, which was to protect a ford and ferry from Confederate invasion.

Although little remains of the earthen fort today, a wooded one-mile loop trail to the site rewards visitors with amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the Kentucky River valley.

Self-guided tours and cell phone tours are available. For the latter, dial 859-592-9166. Learn more about the fort, its history and its role here.

Winchester Wanderings

January blog

Get your sweat on at Winchester’s College Park Health and Wellness Center

College Park Health and Wellness Center is inviting you to stress less and salsa more. Or spin, Zumba, take it to the swimming pool or crank it up to an Olympic-caliber workout.

The facility, managed by the Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Department (WCCPR), has full lineup of fitness programs and classes, from beginning gentle yoga to high-intensity interval Tabata training. Classes are scheduled year-round, offer a huge variety and are available for all ages and levels of fitness.

Barre, which combines of ballet, yoga and Pilates; HIIT (high intensity interval training); TRX (total-body resistance exercise); pickleball; Kid Fit Camp; Aqua Blast and Aqua Boogie sessions; strength and toning classes—these are all on the fitness menu at College Park—along with dozens more.

According to Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Lewis, the facility was renovated in 2004 and the natatorium was added onto it in 2010. Scheduled activities take place in the gym. A weight room welcomes those 18 and older (ages 12 to 15 when accompanied by an adult). A fitness room orientation is provided by a WCCPR trainer.

“A walking track, open during facility hours, is completely free to the public and we have provided several pieces of hydraulic shock equipment up there that are free as well,” said Lewis.

Day passes are available for entry to the fitness rooms and pools. Also offered are all-inclusive memberships for the entire family (use of fitness rooms, pools, fitness classes, gymnasium, sauna and ChildWatch), that have multiple options for discounts and monthly payments. Parents can take advantage of the ChildWatch program for their kids while they are working out at the facility. CPR-certified staff are always on the premises.

Interested in checking out the options? Take of tour of the facility or call 859-744-9554 for more information. Check the WCCPR Facebook page the most up-to-date information and announcements as well as class hours and instructors. Visit the WCCPR website for more information about the facility and passes and memberships available as well as for details about all the parks in Winchester-Clark County, their locations and individual amenities.

Winchester Wanderings

December blog

Skip the partridge and the pear tree for Winchester’s 12 days of Christmas experiences

Has anyone ever really wrapped up and given away a partridge in a pear tree? Who would want it? And who would shell out $319.18 for one—the cost of this item, according to PNC Bank’s annually updated price index of the gifts mentioned in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song?

Fortunately, Winchester has 12 offerings for true loves and others that are not only more affordable, but plenty of fun, too. And although the 12 Days officially begin the day after Christmas, these holiday experiences can be enjoyed as early as the beginning of the month.

  • Time travel to Christmas Past. Return to the Kentucky frontier and step into an 18th Century Christmas at Fort Boonesborough State Park. Presented by the Fort Boonesborough Foundation, this event takes place 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, and includes period music, decorated cabins, activities, refreshments, displays of early life on the frontier, candlelight and . . . one very special guest. Admission: Adults/$8; children 6-12/$5; free under 5 free.
  • In addition to being open 5-9 p.m. during the Dec. 2 Winchester Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting, the Hall Coffee & Social Club is planning a couple of fun holiday happenings. Dig out your ugliest holiday sweater for Hall’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Cocktail Party, 7-11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. On Dec. 28, gather for the Heartstrings Songwriter Circle, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Order a “Let It Snow” or “Deck the Halls” cookie decorating kit from Winchester’s own Sugar Belly Baking and have a family fun night at home, adding icing and sprinkles to snowflakes, Christmas trees and other shapes. Kits are $20 each, and available for ordering until Dec. 8. The kits, along with Sugar Belly’s large ($30) and small ($15) cookie boxes, will be available for pickup in Winchester between Dec. 16-19.
  • Abettor Brewing hosts its annual Christmas Market, 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Lots of vendors with a wide variety of goodies for under the tree and in the stocking: tumblers, custom ornaments, baked goods, candles, craft soap and more. Food truck yummies round out the fun.
  • Sign up for the Festive Holiday Foliage Wreath Making Class at Harkness Edwards Vineyards, 12:30-1:30 and 2-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. All experience levels can have fun creating a wreath while enjoying a glass of wine. Materials provided. $45/person
  • Join Harkness Edwards Vineyards for one of the most beloved traditions of the season, a Gingerbread House Workshop, 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, and craft your perfect gingerbread house. Enjoy holiday music and a glass of wine. Supplies provided. $57/person
  • Stroll through downtown to see the Christmas tree aglow with lights and storefronts decorated for the holidays and stop at 21 North Main Street to see the newly finished mural, “This is Boone Country.” The 24 by 14 foot mural, painted by artist Kevin Osbourn, is located on the side of Harper’s Pawn Shop.
  • Treat yourself to a Snow Globe Mug from Dirty South Pottery’s 2023 Limited Holiday Collection ($37). Pair with a packet of Creative Coffee’s Hot Chocolate ($4), also available at Dirty South Pottery. Sip while watching your favorite holiday classic movie.
  • Here’s the place to wear your shopping shoes for a day of poking around to finish off your Christmas list and find the perfect holiday décor. The Ole Red Barn Mall is wall-to-wall booths filled with treasures galore, including those for holiday gift giving.
  • Visit the gift shop at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum and pick up a copy of Harry G. Enoch’s newest book, Pioneer Voices: Interviews with Early Settlers of Clark County, Kentucky. The work is a “transcription of (Reverend) John D. Shane’s Clark County interviews with 32 individuals, plus five memorandums on people and places in the county as well as a memoir written by pioneer William Sudduth.” Enoch is the author of the popular Where In The World? Historic Places in Clark County, Kentucky book series, also available at the museum’s gift shop.

Winchester Wanderings

November blog

Eight things to do in Winchester in November

Among hallowed Thanksgiving traditions are taking a nap, sharing gratitude and planning (and enjoying) the must-eats of the Thanksgiving spread. How about adding a few other traditions to the list throughout the month? Like creating a masterpiece to include on your Thanksgiving tablescape, taking a walk on the wild side and savoring seasonal sips.

Here are eight ways to add zing to the month of Thanksgiving:

1: Grab a bag of Pumpkin Spice, Autumn Spice or Snickledoodle coffee from Creative Coffees Roastery. Take a free tour with 24-hour advance notice (call 859-355-5412) and learn all about coffee origins, types of roasts, how coffee is flavored and the temps at which it is roasted. See how Creative Coffees makes its own K-cups. Tours are about 25 minutes; 45 minutes with a roast.

2: Hike nearby Red River Gorge for a chance to spot wild turkeys. Best viewing area for these befeathered gobblers? In the field behind the Gladie Visitor Center. According to A-Z-Animals, the humble turkey is a symbol of strength, courage and abundance. It also symbolizes gratitude, Thanksgiving and history, and can be a sign for new beginnings and good luck. That’s a lot of responsibility to lay on one bird—but you’ll likely see whole rafters of wild turkeys scrabbling about The Red.

3: Paint a piece of Thanksgiving- or fall-themed pottery at Created by You Ceramic Studio. Find a whole patch of pumpkins, gourds and scarecrows, along with serving dishes and planters to show off those seasonal arrangements. Make it an outing and schedule a group gathering or private class. And mark your calendar for Painting with Santa on Monday, Dec. 4. Check the studio’s Facebook page for event updates.

4: Visit the Bluegrass Heritage Museum to see the exhibit of an 1875 runabout buggy, the way families once traveled over the river and through the wood to grandfather’s house—at least according to the 1844 poem, originally published as “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.” (Today’s version is more closely associated with a Christmas trip to grandmother’s house.) In the museum’s Quilt Room, you might spot an era-appropriate quilt that would have been tucked around the buggy’s occupants to ward off the “sting the toes/bite the nose” chill.

5: Shop for Thanksgiving host/hostess gifts, Thanksgiving home décor and accessories, etc. If there’s one day guaranteed to give a dinner party host dishpan-hands, it’s Thanksgiving. It’s Court Street Gifts to the rescue with Michel Design Works’ luxurious foaming hand soap made with shea butter in elegantly designed pump dispensers ($14.95). To spruce up the tablescape? Michel Design Works’ soft and sturdy Hostess Napkins ($7.95), featuring the themes and colors of fall.

Eve’s Uniques creates holiday ambience with handmade sweater pumpkins ($14-18) and handmade decoupage pumpkins ($16), so adorable for centerpieces, and 100 percent soy candles by Trubee Hill ($24)—an Eve’s exclusive—with fragrant fall scents, including bestsellers Autumn Apple, Pumpkin Harvest and Fall Foliage. (Halloween lovers can also pick up fan favorite Horror Stories, scented with dark bourbon, maple and toasted oak.)

Pick up supplies at Eve’s Uniques to DIY a hostess gift. Foolproof and reusable mesh stencils ($17-$24) can be used on fabric, wood, glass, ceramics and other materials. Shown is a photo of a wreath stenciled on a tray. Gell Art Ink ($13/tube) can be used on fabric to make custom napkins or pillows. (Inexpensive napkins and pillowcases can be purchased from Amazon.)

6: Take the Walk Through Time Walking Tour at Winchester Cemetery. Who will you meet along the way? A world-famous sculptor, victims of the 1918 Pastime Theatre tragedy, brothers who fought on opposing sides of the Civil War and (possibly) the founder of Winchester. Be on the lookout for hidden messages in the cemetery’s many carvings and engravings—like a pineapple, the symbol for hospitality, so perfect for the month when families and friends gather together in thanksgiving.

7: Sample the beer, cider and seltzers that are on tap for November at Abettor BrewingSouthern Living’s pick for Kentucky craft brewery in the magazine’s October 2023 issue. Among the choices at the brewery’s 20 taps? Marzen Oktoberfest, Opossum Detainment Porter, VanderPumpkin Rules!! Pumpkin Ale, German Pilsner and Fanny Cole Hard Apple Cider.

8: It’s been call magical, a post-Thanksgiving holiday tradition, and like walking into a Hallmark Christmas Movie: Beech Springs Farm Market’s Christmas Market lives up to the hype. Taking place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, November 25, the event includes visits and photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, live Christmas music, the nose-tingling aroma of freshly popped popcorn and other holiday treats and vendors, vendors and more vendors displaying irresistible gift items—many of them made in Kentucky and by Kentucky artisans. Make your lists, check them twice and spend the day in a Winchester Original way.

Winchester’s fall foodie events cast a spell of deliciousness

Abracadabra, and fall is here—and Winchester greets the month with a little hocus pocus for foodies. Celebrate fall foods with four different culinary classes, two food heritage festivals and one trail winding through Beer Cheese Country—open year-round but particularly scenic during leaf peeping season.

Cooking Classes at Harkness Edwards Vineyards

Hocus Pocus Charcuterie Class, 12-1:30 p.m. Oct. 1: Put down your broomsticks and pick up your boards for a class in the art of styling charcuterie with a Halloween theme. Class includes learning the basics of charcuterie, including selection of products, and assembling the board with meats, fruits, cheeses and grains. $57/person, includes a glass of wine. This class repeats on Oct. 8 (12-1:30 p.m.) and Oct. 22 (2:30-4 p.m.).

Apple Butter Pork Chops Cooking Class, 2:30-4 p.m. Oct. 1: A meal with all the fall feels (and tastes) and a chance to level up your cooking skills with guided instructions each step of the way. $57/person, includes a glass of wine.

Hocus Pocus Cookie Decorating Class, 2-3:30 p.m. Oct. 8: Too spooky to eat? Not these sweet confections! Learn the basics of the royal icing technique for decorating six Halloween-themed cookies. (Royal icing is typically made with a mix of confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder and water that dries hard, allowing for the layering of assorted colors to create intricate designs.) $47/person, includes a glass of wine.

Halloween Cupcakes Class, 12-1:30 p.m. Oct. 22: Take home a dozen decorated cupcakes just in time for the witching hour. The class includes step-by-step instructions and a glass of wine. $57/person.

Foodie Festivals

Heritage Food Festival, Oct. 12-15: Mt. Folly Farm invites you to “build a feast from the ground up”—literally—beginning with attendees building an outdoor cooking space with their own hands. During this four-day festival, participants will set up camp; kill and process a goat for meat; make cheese; make bread from whole grains grown and ground on Mt. Folly Farm, ferments and kraut; and incorporate herbs, nuts and other wild ingredients they have foraged into a shared feast that takes place on Saturday night.

Tickets range from $25 for individual workshops, including Thursday’s Meat 101 Workshop, to $60 for a full festival ticket. (A $10 ticket for the Friday night band only is also available). See details at the event website. More information is included in Winchester’s October newsletter.

FannyFest Cider Festival, 12-5 p.m. Oct. 14: Presented by Abettor Brewing Company and Winchester Black Heritage & Historical Society (WBHHS), this inaugural free-admission festival celebrates Winchester entrepreneur Fanny Cole, an African American woman who was the city’s first legal cider maker. The event will include Abettor Brewing’s cider, food trucks, live music and a storyteller who will share Fanny’s story.

Born sometime in the early 1770s, Fanny married Aaron Cole in 1827—the year he purchased her freedom—and helped run a grocery and sundries shop until her death in 1849. Proceeds from the event will go to the WBHHS to fund scholarships for Clark County High School seniors. More information is included in Winchester’s October newsletter.

Beer Cheese Trail, open year-round: The Birthplace of Beer Cheese is cause for an indulgent celebration any time of year, but fall makes the trail even more colorful with the changing leaves and the air crisper with cooler temps.

Download the Beer Cheese Trail Digital Passport (Cheese Log) and journey to more than a dozen restaurants to explore signature beer cheese dishes like Steak and Beer Cheese Omelet, Beer Cheese Biscuits served with gourmet jellies or preserves or a slice of Kentucky Proud sausage, Kentucky Hot Ham & Beer Cheese, Beer Cheese Quesadilla, Winchester Hot Brown Pizza, Shrimp and Beer Cheese Grits, Beer Cheese Nachos, a Beer Cheese Platter and more—enough to satisfy your beer cheese craving from morning to midnight snack.

Have your beer cheese and eat it, too—and learn about Winchester/Clark County attractions and history along the way. Like Pilot Knob (near Pilot View Mini Mart), where Daniel Boone had his first look at Kentucky . . . the Winchester Opera House, now Loma’s at the Opera House, where Helen Keller once spoke . . . and Hall’s on the River, where the story of beer cheese began 90 years ago. . .

Seven things you didn’t know about the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival

The 44th Annual Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival takes place in downtown Winchester on Labor Day Weekend, September 2 and 3, kicking off on Friday, Sept. 1, with an evening street dance—also downtown.

If you’ve attended past festivals, you already know how much fun the festival is with live music, handmade arts and crafts, a huge variety of festival foodie faves and lots of family fun . . . but there might be a few things you didn’t know. Read on!

1. It’s been around, and bounced around

The festival has been around since the first Susan B. Anthony coin was minted in the U.S. (representing the first time a woman appeared on a U.S. circulating coin) and the last iconic Volkswagen Beetle was manufactured in Germany.

Founded in 1978 by the Winchester Art Guild, the festival began as a way for local artisans to display and sell their handicrafts. In those early years, the festival was held on the steps of the Clark County Courthouse.

In the 1980s, as the number of attendees swelled, the festival was moved to College Park. Since both Mother Nature and world events seemed to conspire against it in that location—the former in the way of rain and mud, the latter in a global pandemic—the festival was moved again in 2019 . . . back to downtown where it has settled in very nicely along Main Street.

2. Festival admission is free

Yes, free. And it always has been.

3. 150+ tents mean a HUGE variety of arts, crafts, foods and fun

Booths, booths and more booths—lining downtown Winchester as far as the eye can see and filled with all sorts of goodies: pottery, ceramics, art, jewelry, body products (lotions, beard oils, soaps, more), bourbon barrel items, t-shirts, seasonal décor, gourd art, macrame, Shaker-style brooms and boxes, leather items, wood puzzles, painted rocks, heirloom children’s clothes, quilts, and other art and handicraft items; country ham sandwiches, steakbombs, blooming onions, pork rinds, hand-dipped corndogs, pulled pork cheese fries, famous crack chicken, fried Oreos, funnel cakes, ice cream, iced coffee, shaved ice, bubble tea and so. much. more. Find your favorite Winchester artists and vendors as well as those from all over Kentucky and from Ohio, Tennessee and Georgia, too.

4. New community gallery space opens during the festival

The Gallery Above, a free community space, presents the “Minds of Many,” a showing of more than 70 artists from the Winchester community. The multimedia event, held in the historic McEldowney Building at 5 Cleveland Avenue, will open its doors 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the festival, with the exhibition running through October 2023.

“Come celebrate the arts with us,” said Adam Kidd, co-director of the project goaled to make art accessible to the public. “The space will soon be accessible for artists to use and facilitate their own gallery shows.”

5. “Neon Hallelujah” artist headlines

Saturday evening’s headlining performer, county music star JD Shelburne, is excited to come to Winchester, the place Daniel Boone described, from atop Pilot Knob, as seeing “with pleasure the beautiful level of Kentucke.”

“Growing up in Kentucky and from playing on traveling sports teams across the Commonwealth to now touring full time—and getting to play hundreds of small towns across the Bluegrass— you can say I have seen my fair share of what makes Kentucky special and enriched in beauty,” said Shelburne.

Shelburne grew up about 75 miles west of Winchester, on a tobacco farm in Taylorsville, KY.

“A 120-acre family farm has been in my family for over 100 years, and one day it will be passed down to my brother and me,” said Shelburne. “Every inch of that land I grew up on runs through every single song I have ever recorded. I am proud of that and my heritage.”

6. 10:50 arrival . . . is that early, late? Nope! It’s right on time – here’s why

Winchester’s own 10:50 ARRIVAL trio is performing during Friday evening’s street dance, 7-9 p.m. Why 10:50? That is the time Gabriel, daughter of husband-and-wife harmonizers, David and Rebecca Jensen, arrived on scene, aka was born. Originally from Washington State, the family moved to Kentucky in 2020 to create beautiful music together.

“We enjoy playing music and singing together,” said David Jensen. “We have enjoyed Kentucky so far and have met so many nice people.”

Give a listen here, then plan to bust a move to 10:50 ARRIVAL’s tunes on Friday, Sept. 1.

7. Festival walk is for the dogs

The 2023 “Walk with Friends” is a fundraising event to support/raise funds for the Clark County Animal Shelter. The walk, hosted by the George Rogers Clark cheerleading squad, will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 303 Hickman Street (at Lincoln Street). A small portion of the proceeds may go to walk organizer, GRC Cheerleading, and to GRC Girls Golf.

The Clark County Animal Shelter strives to lower the number of unwanted and abandoned animals in our community. It also strives to adopt all of its animals and works very closely with rescue groups and other organizations to ensure our animals are placed in the best homes possible.

Bo List talks Leeds’ upcoming show season, behind-the-scenes schemes and the creative team’s dreams

Built originally as a single-screen movie house in 1925, the Leeds Center for the Arts is today a restored and timeless treasure sharing the arts with the community through musical and drama performances, live music and occasional films and comedy.

The upcoming 2023/2024 season promises to be as exciting and entertaining as ever. It opens Aug. 11 with Matilda the Musical, which runs through Aug. 27, and is followed by Singin’ in the Rain JR (Nov. 10-19) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Feb. 23-March 3), closing with The Three Musketeers (May 3-12).

The Leeds’ fundraising event, the inaugural “Main Event,” will take place on Saturday, Sept. 23, and feature an evening of performance from favorite area actors and singers, as well as cameo appearances from Winchester celebrities and special deals with downtown restaurants. During the month leading up tothe event, Winchester’s Main Street will be transformed into a gallery of donated silent auction artwork with proceeds split between the theater and contributing artists.

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, a reception will be held at the Leeds beginning at 7 p.m. to unveil the biddable artwork. Following the reception, the artworks will hang in participating Winchester businesses from Wednesday, Aug. 23 through Saturday, Sept. 23.

Bo List, Leeds’ director of development and an award-winning educator, playwright and theatre director, shared insights about the theater, its upcoming season and the creative team’s dream productions.

Q: What is a little-known fact about the Leeds Center for the Arts that may surprise people?

A: We’re one year older than Ale-8-One (founded in 1926) and we’re figuring out howto celebrate our 100th anniversary. We are talking about it now—and we’ll be ready to go with a good party.

Q: Can you share a bit about the process of what goes into choosing productions?

A: It all starts with figuring out what productions we want. We look at what others are doing, what works and what doesn’t in Winchester, what our audience wants to see, and what they’d love to see if they knew it was out there.

Q: How many shows are selected each year?

We select four to five shows. We want children andfamilies to come together throughout the year and we want to give adults something to see, so our balance reflects the diversity of programming we try to present.

Q: How do you determine the order for the shows?

The season should open with a bang and this year, that’s Matilda. We’ll save our non-musical production for the spring—that’s when we want something fun and different, something with more grown-up appeal. That’s The Three Musketeers. Plus, one show for young performers only, and a less-familiar musical. We fill in the gaps in between with concerts and other events—anything we can do to bring people together.

Q: What is your favorite show?

A: A favorite show I love that I worked on and had the best effect on the audience is Parade.(Parade is the Tony Award-winning musical that tells the true story of Leo Frank’s wrongful arrest for the murder of a girl near Atlanta, GA, in 1913). I was part of the producing team for the Chicago premiere of that show. The audience was blown away.

Q: What are some dream productions the Leeds’ creative team would love to bring to the stage?

A: The musicals, Chicago, Hair and Cabaret, which all contain very mature content, and 42nd Street, which requires expert tap dancers. We’re not quite ready for these shows yet, but they feature prominently in our daydreams about what kind of work we’d like to share with our audience!

Q: Why is now a great time to support local arts organizations?

A: These organizations tend to suffer first when there’s a crisis, like the pandemic, and are the slowest to recover. The Leeds has been very fortunate. We were hit hard, but we have a loyal fan base and donors. I wish everyone knew that when they sign up to volunteer, make a donation or buy a ticket to the theater—these wonderful treasures that exist in their towns and cities—they’re making a very strong investment in the quality of life in their community. They’re not just sharing some time: They’re giving something important to everyone.

For information about or tickets to the Leeds Center for the Arts’ 2023/2034 productions, including the inaugural fundraising event, “Main Event,” visit or call 859-749-2754.

Family Fun!

How to family fun in Winchester

That family that plays together . . . well, you know the rest. Winchester has lots of ways for families to play, stay and spend the day together. Here are nine of them:

Paint together

Rainy day fun is hands-on fun at Created By You, Winchester’s professional ceramic studio. Choose a piece of pottery and spend a pleasant morning or afternoon painting your own designs—and creating family memories. Want to bring the good times home? Purchase your choice of Pottery-To-Go kits, complete with pottery, paint and brushes—everything needed for each family member to create a masterpiece.

Pitch together

A tent, that is. Family-friendly Red River Boat Dock and Campground offers tent sites, RV hookups and a few air-conditioned cabins for camping at the historic ferry crossing where the Red River meets the Kentucky River. Camping, fishing, hiking, live music, kayak rentals, cornhole tournaments, lots of food—there’s always something happening at this peaceful campground stretching out along Red River’s shoreline.

EVENT: On Saturday, July 8, Red River is planning its annual fireworks show. Bring a lawn chair and watch the sky light up while Renegade plays. Check Facebook page for updates.

Paddle together

Rent a canoe or kayak from Three Trees Canoe-Kayak Rental and RV Park for a day of exploring the ancient geologic formation, the Kentucky River Palisades. In the evening, settle in for the night at the RV Park, with full hook-ups, picnic tables and clean restrooms and showers. Three Trees is located just a mile from Fort Boonesborough State Park.

Climb together

Play at a park, but not just any park—one that comes alive with the sound of music, courtesy of a one-of-a-kind climbing musical instrument. The Dulcimer Climber pays tribute to the Appalachian string instrument created in the 1800s and Kentucky’s most renowned dulcimer-maker, Winchester’s own Homer Ledford. Ledford handcrafted more than 6,000 musical instruments (many of them dulcimers) during his lifetime. This unique feature anchors the fun at Legacy Grove, a 30-acre accessible park with adventure play area with swings, spinners, slides, fort and an Exploration Creek kids can splash in, plus nature trails, walking paths and more.

EVENT: The park’s Legacy Nights series, featuring family fun, food trucks and music by NVRMND with Sydney Norman (5:30-8 p.m.) takes place on Tuesday, July 11.

Hike together

Grab provisions for a day of hiking the Red in Winchester and then make the 35-minute drive to Red River Gorge. Gas, Ale-8, water, chicken and biscuits, assorted snacks—make one stop for everything at Winchester’s Clark’s Pump-n-Shop (famous for its Ale-8 “cave”)—and you can call ahead to place your food order.

Yikes! together

See an operating room from a century or so ago at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum. From 1927 to 1971, this building was the Guerrant Mission Clinic and Hospital and remained in use as a clinic until 1989 when the hospital closed. On the third floor, in the  Guerrant Clinic and Hospital Rooms exhibit, see an operating table, sterilizing machine, surgical tools and supplies and more from way back when. The gallery is among exhibits, including Homer Ledford’s workshop, a hotel’s barber shop, Civil War-era bullets, buckles and buttons and vintage phones – with one that goes back nearly 140 years. (How on earth does that fit into your pocket?)

Learn together

Although very little remains of the earthen fort at the Civil War Fort at Boonesboro, it is well worth a visit for the Insta-worthyviews. Follow the 1-mile loop trail for panoramic sweeps of the Kentucky River Valley. Then dial into a cell phone tour at 859-592-9166 and learn about this fort built and defended by Union Soldiers during the Civil War.

Eat together

Take a mid-week break and celebrate National Hot Dog Day on Wednesday, July 19 with a family picnic at a Winchester/Clark County park with shelters and playground, like Wiseman, Massie or Lykins park. P.S. July 19 is also National Daiquiri Day, so parents, steal away to DJ’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill or Hall’s on the River and order one of these frosty concoctions. (Need a picnic hamper? Poke around Winchester antique stores—Eve’s Uniques, the Old Red Barn Mall—for hamper, basket or bag to tote picnic supplies.)

Wow together

Head to the countryside for an overnight surrounded by acres and acres of rolling farm and pastureland beneath the open sky above. How many constellations can you find? The stars shine brighter in the country, making for ideal stargazing at these getaways: Franklin Ridge Farm sits on 150 country acres and features a guesthouse with front porch swings and outdoor firepit; Mt. Folly Farm’s Historic Log Cabin is perched in the midst of 1,000 acres where families can enjoy hiking, birding, and biking around the property; and the Basin Springs House, located in a private storybook setting at the Peacock Ranch.