Elevate your Santa game with these local stocking stuffers

Legend holds that during the third century, a Greek bishop named St. Nicholas helped three poor daughters with their dowries by tossing bags filled with gold coins through a window into their home. As luck would have it, the bags landed in stockings the girls had hung by the chimney to dry.

And thus began the tradition of the Christmas stocking.

Inflation has most likely killed all hope of Santa stuffing those stockings with bags of gold this year; however, Winchester shops and restaurants have lots of ideas that will make you look every bit as swish as Santa.

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Have a holly-jolly Christmas with Winchester’s holiday events

Make your list and check it twice for some fantastic, festive holiday events taking place in Winchester – everything from open house merriment to farmers market fun.

“Put us on your list of holiday must-dos,” said Bailey Milheiser, manager of Beech Springs Farmers Market.

“Our Christmas Market is a great way to meet all kinds of local artists and crafters all in one place,” she said. “We think it gets everyone in the holiday spirit – and that it’s a great way to shop Small Business Saturday!”

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Where in the World? Winchester Scavenger Hunt

Josiah Jackson’s Grave. The Devil’s Backbone. Winchester’s Lost Silver Mines.

There are enough historic places in Winchester/Clark County to fill three books, which is what Kentucky author Harry G. Enoch did with his Where In The World? Historic Places in Clark County, Kentucky series.

Based on Enoch’s column of the same name, which was written for the Bluegrass Heritage Museum and published in the Winchester Sun, the books share the stories behind the landmarks all over the county.

Think you know Winchester? Here’s a scavenger hunt to six of its historic places. You don’t need Enoch’s books to solve the clues – although reading his books is certainly entertaining and worthwhile. Just pack your sense of wonder and a yen to learn more about Winchester and surroundings and head out in search of the answers.

  1. A bank once sat upon this street,
    Two frozen ladies’ faces greet.
    Back then it was the second bank –
    The “handsomest” with lots of swank.
  2. Neighborhood marked by First and Elm,
    And Washington and Walnut realm.
    A place of opportunity,
    Historic Black community.
  3. County fairgrounds stand on the spot,
    Once housed the poor – that was their lot.
    A landfill also sits out there,
    And dogs and cats that need some care.
  4. A holy house all dressed in stone.
    Historic landmark that was home
    To Baptists and Reformers both
    In search of spiritual growth.
  5. This biz mixed furniture and death
    New couch and chair and one’s last breath.
    A flea market is in its place,
    A pretty downtown Main Street space.
  6. This structure lines the county roads.
    Piled rock walls stacked with good limestone.
    Such character they give the land
    Amazing they were built by hand.

Give up? Enoch’s books are available for borrowing from the Clark County Public Library and for purchase at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum. Or you can prolong the suspense and wait until next month when the answers will be published in the Winchester blog.

For the record . . . Josiah Jackson (1746-1836) was a patriot of the American Revolution, and his grave may or may not be at his old homeplace in Clark County. The Devil’s Backbone was a narrow ridge that sparked local superstitions about the devil himself lurking about the area.

And the lost silver mines? These were alleged to have been found in Clark County around 1760 by a guy named Jonathan Swift. (You’ll be forgiven if Gulliver’s Travels springs to mind; the search for silver mines in Kentucky is similarly fantastical.)

Out and About in Winchester

Singers, songwriters and scouts take over the calendar for things to do in May in Winchester, kicking off with the return of one of downtown’s favorite gatherings: the four-concert summer Rock The Block Series.

May 13, 7-9 p.m.Rock the Block Series: Local family court judge Kimberly Carter lays down the law and the rhythms in opening the series. Joined by her husband (a retired local judge) on the guitar and other musicians, she’ll be holding court on the courthouse steps on Main Street. Pack a lawn chair to set up in front of the courthouse or grab a seat on the high side of Main for an evening of music, dancing and community fun.

Rock The Block is free, as is the bounce house for kids. A classic car show will be presented on North Main Street by Remember When Cruiserz. Food truck deliciousness, snow cones and “adult beverages” will be available for purchase. Plan time to visit downtown’s shops and restaurants before the show. 

Mark your calendar for this night and for the series’ other summer dates: June 1 features local musician Lauren Mink; July 8 brings in one of Kentucky’s hottest dance bands with Lexington-based Boogie G and the Titanic; and August 12 hosts Florence, KY-based Tom the Torpedoes, nailing that “vintage Petty sound” with the music of Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers.

May 22, 5-7 p.m. HeartStrings SongWriters’ Circle at Abettor: Singer/songwriters take the spotlight during this free event that is hosted by Winchester musician Trish Torline and held at Abettor’s North Highland Street location.

This “in the round” style music showcase features all song styles and musical genres – rock, folk, country, pop, Christian, alternative, R&B. The event gives artists a chance to workshop their material and melodies, tweak lyrics and share the stories behind the songs with the audience in an intimate setting. Who knows? You may here the Next Big Hit!

HeartStrings SongWriters’ Circle takes place on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. The lineup includes a rotating group of Kentucky artists and food trucks.

May 28-29 – Spring Trade Days at Fort Boonesborough: Plan to spend some of the Memorial Day Weekend at a gathering of merchants, traders, artisans, Native Americans, militia members, longhunters, scouts and other frontier characters at the original fort site of Daniel Boone and settlers.

“They will have camps set up that guests can visit,” said Park Manager Jack Winburn. “The merchants will be featuring eighteenth century wares that can be purchased and we will also have our regular living history demonstrations of pioneer skills.”

This event, which takes place throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday, typically features period music and a chance to compare what life was like for the people who lived and worked the land, built a settlement and a community 245 years ago.

Fort Boonesborough has been reconstructed as a working fort complete with cabins, blockhouses and furnishings. Visitors can also tour the Kentucky River Museum (open Saturday during Trade Days) for a peek into the past of the lives of families who lived on the river and worked the locks and dams in the 1900s.

NOTE: During Trade Days, visitors are requested to park in the lower Fort lot on KY388 and ride the free shuttle up to the Fort.

Make it a Winchester weekend with a stay in one of several unique lodgings, including a Historic Log Cabin in a country setting and a downtown Carriage Inn apartment with views of the county courthouse. Winchester has a dozen or so brand name hotels and one-of-a-kind places for a fun getaway in the Birthplace of Beer Cheese.

April activities bring spring festivities

Spring in Winchester, Kentucky!

April showers bring on the flowers, but in Winchester, April also brings lots of activities, and in some of the nicest places, to celebrate the return of warmer weather: a vineyard as it awakens from winter, Winchester’s first-ever brewery at its second location and the historic downtown shopping district, home to one of the cutest little parks in town. Check the events calendar for these outings and others.

April 3, 2-4 p.m.: Floral Crown Workshop at Harkness Edwards Vineyard. Spend a fun and relaxing spring afternoon gathered with girlfriends in the vineyard, sipping wine, noshing charcuterie and creating a lush floral crown. Brownings Flower Truck will guide participants step by step on the how-tos of creating their own unique flower crown masterpiece. Tickets: $65/person.

The workshop takes place during the vineyard’s Spring Fling celebration, 1-6 p.m., also on April 3. Pick out spring bulbs at the bulb bar to pot for the season to add color to your garden. Terracotta pots and soil will also be available for pickup, so you’ll have all needed supplies to get your garden show ready. Harkness Edwards will serve spring cocktails all day during the festivities. This event is free to attend all day for the bulb bar and cocktails. 

April 16: Downtown Easter Shop Hop, presented by Main Street Winchester. Tie on your Easter bonnet and slip on your shopping shoes for this annual outing to downtown Winchester: Photos with the Easter Bunny at Many Friends Parklette (11 a.m.-1 p.m.); spring shopping specials from participating downtown merchants; and an Easter egg drawing for little ones for small prizes and a chance to win an Easter Basket filled with goodies.

For the drawing, kids will visit participating downtown shops to draw an egg*. Each egg contains a prize. There are three golden eggs among them and the children who draw these will win the grand prize of the Easter basket. (Note: While supplies last.)

The Easter Shop Hop is the perfect day to get a head start on shopping for Mother’s Day, wedding showers and spring graduations, or to update your spring wardrobe.

April 16, 5-10 p.m.: It’s time to shop, eat, drink and listen when Abettor Brewing Company presents the Three Year Anniversary Night Market at its Depot Street location – home of Abettor’s primary production facility – and an evening of food trucks, vendors and music.

Joining the celebration will be Wildcat Willy’s Distillery – Winchester’s farm-to-table restaurant and moonshine and bourbon distillery; Bell on Wheels, an award-winning food truck famous for a unique menu that includes the likes of a full Irish breakfast, Cali-style “Ode to the In and Out Burger,” Guinness Stew and a Whiskey River Burger sauced with whiskey; and BS Barbecue, a food truck known for its mouth-watering smoked brisket, pulled pork and chicken – not to mention its secret-recipe barbecue sauce.

Did You Know?

In a town that drinks its weight in Ale-8-One, a canine named Cola is something of a celebrity in a local Winchester cemetery as the only dog buried there. Kentucky’s most famous explorer got his first eyeful of what would become the fifteenth state in Winchester. And a local guy made history on a national day of celebration.

There’s lots to know about this quirky charmer, a true original among Kentucky small towns.

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Following Winchester’s African American Trail

A man born in 1875 is credited with creating what became known as Black History Month a century later. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History and a 1903 graduate of Berea College, is intrinsically linked with the celebration – officially recognized by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 – that honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation.

Winchester invites you to celebrate Black History Month by experiencing the landmarks and neighborhoods, achievements and contributions of its African American citizens on a trail dedicated to their legacy.

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Beat Back the Cold with these Winchester Warmers

Baby, it’s cold outside. . .”

Fortunately, Winchester businesses have the recipe to warm you up as temperatures drop: Delicious specialty drinks created right here that have just the right amount of heat to chase the chill right into next month. The special ingredients? Kentucky bourbon, Kentucky wine and Kentucky soft drink. Catch the theme?

Here are four recipes from three Winchester watering holes – Abettor Brewing, Engine House Pizza Pub and Harkness Edwards Winery – plus the oldest, privately held bottler in the United States still owned and operated by the founding family: Ale-8-One.

Okay fine, just another drink then.
(That took a lot of convincing!)”

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The 12 daytrips of Christmas in Winchester

On the first daytrip of Christmas

We all went to see. . .

The Pilot View Mini Mart to pull from the case one frosty bottle of Ale-8-One – the soft drink invented in Winchester – and taste its gingery citrusy flavor before hiking to the top of Pilot Knob State Nature Preserve, elevation 730 feet, to catch the view Daniel Boone had all to himself back in the late 1760s.

On the second daytrip of Christmas

We all went to see. . .

Two award-winning, family-owned wineries: Hamon Haven Vineyard & Winery and Harkness Edwards Vineyards, each with charming tasting room and delicious artisan wines to buy by the bottle and taste by the glass. Cheers!

On the third daytrip of Christmas

We all went to see. . .

Three types of birds – quail, chuckers and pheasants – at Quail Point Preserve and Recreational Hunt for a guided hunt. (Non-guided hunts available, too.)

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6 Gifts Your Holiday Host Will Give Thanks For

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be parties for hosting
Insta’s for posting
And houses alight with a glow. . .

Tis the season for holiday gatherings. Whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner, an informal post-turkey day do, holiday tea party, tree trimming affair, cocktail bash or other occasion, bringing a thoughtful and personal gift for your host is always in style. And with nearly two dozen locally owned shops lining its downtown streets and surrounding area, Winchester has lots of gifting possibilities.

Here are ideas from a half dozen Winchester merchants:

Dirty South Pottery

Find handmade gifts for every budget, from ornaments to mugs to kitchenware, including the shop’s new Fireside Collection. Additionally, the shop partners with another local business, Creative Coffees Roastery, to create customized gift boxes for its seasonal Holiday Shop. (A favorite is the irresistible Mystery Mug Gift Set, which includes a mug with its own unique shape and glazing and the shop’s signature blend of coffee.)

A gift that a host will love for its versatility is Dirty South’s Dessert Stand ($60-$65), shown in Ocean Jade. Handmade from start to finish, it is a one-of-a-kind piece that is perfect for showcasing much more than cake – it can show off anything from fruit to charcuterie. Useful and beautiful, it is made with porcelain clay and measures approximately 5 inches high and 11 inches wide. The Dessert Stand is available exclusively at Dirty South Pottery’s Winchester shop.

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