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Featured Events

Aug26

Bluegrass Classic Dog Show

Five days of all-breed conformation, obedience & rally competition. ... more
Mar21

Bluegrass Farmers' Market, Inc.

The Bluegrass Farmers' Market is the largest 100% homegrown/produced farmers' market... more
Aug29

Moontower Music Festival

Eighteen bands, 2 stages, 2 beer gardens featuring 5 different craft beers and Old 502... more
Jul26

The Red Mile 2015 Standardbred Meet

The First part of the racing meet features the Kentucky Sire Stakes racing series... more
Aug30

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Alma Gitana!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your friends... more
Sep2

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  The Jarflies!  Enjoy traditional Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel... more
Sep3

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Mercy Men!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great music by... more
Sep4

7th Annual Lexington Fest-of-Ales

The 7th Annual Lexington Fest of Ales will feature 200 craft beers from around the US and... more
Sep4

Free Friday Night Concert Series "Summer

Enjoy CoraLee & the Townies!  Grab those lawn chairs and come enjoy the music... more
Sep5

Bluegrass Archery Tournament

Yourth 10 + and adults are invited to compete in the inaugural Bluegrass Archery... more
Sep6

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  D Jay Rice!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your friends... more
Sep9

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  Joe LaMay & Sherri Reese & Friends  Enjoy traditional... more
Sep10

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Big Black Cadillac!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great... more
Sep11

Kentucky Cork & Tap

Featuring Kentucky wineries and vineyards, local beers from Lexington's own breweries,... more
Sep11

Lexington Roots & Heritage Festival

Honoring the Past.  Celebrating the Present.  Embracing the future.  Enjoy... more
Sep12

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Gene Watson!  Enjoy great classic country, southern... more
Sep12

Stargazing

Enjoy an astromomy presentation and view the night sky through a variety of... more
Sep12

The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky

Wayne Koestenbaum:  Unfamiliar Grammer, Paintings from 2010-2015.  Bottoms... more
Sep13

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Jeff Barnes Duo!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more
Sep14

Keeneland September Yearling Sales

This sale attracts buyers from all over the world.  Spectators welcome!... more
Sep16

Jefferson Street Soiree

The Jefferson Street Soiree is back after the success of its inaugural year and is sure... more
Sep16

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  Alex Smith!  Enjoy traditional Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel with... more
Sep17

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Girls Guns & Glory!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and... more
Sep18

Festival Latino de Lexington

Friday night is tropical night and will include authentic Latino foods, fireworks... more
Sep19

Jim Belushi & the Board of Comedy

An alumnus of Saturday Night Live and Chicago’s famed Second City, Jim Belushi... more
Sep19

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guests, Joey and Rory!  Enjoy great classic country,... more
Sep20

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Beyond Apple!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more
Sep23

Red Barn Radio

Featuring:  Mountain Music Ambassadors!  Enjoy traditional Bluegrass and... more
Sep24

Thursday Night Live

Featuring The Barrows!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great music by... more
Sep25

Anderson County Burgoo Festival

Lots of burgoo, music, entertainment and vendors of all kinds.    Held in... more
Sep26

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Mickey Gilley!  Enjoy great classic country,... more
Sep27

Troubadour Concert Series - Exile in The

Enjoy Kentucky's legendary rock and country heroes, EXILE, for a full concert inside the... more
Sep27

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  The Habit!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your friends... more
Sep30

The Red Mile 2015 Grand Circuit

The Grand Circuit is the elite in Standardbred Racing such as the Kentucky Futurity,... more
Oct1

35th Annual Festival of the Horse

Exhibits, concessions, parades, carnival, arts and crafts and 5K run. ... more
Oct1

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Five Below Band!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great music... more
Oct2

A Night Celebrating The Lyric

Help celebrate the 5th Anniversary of The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center!... more
Oct2

Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing

No racing on Mondays or Tuesdays. See live Thoroughbred racing at the most elegant race... more
Oct2

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Jimmy Fortune!  Enjoy great classic country,... more
Oct3

Perryville Battlefield Commemoration

Battle re-enactments, living history, parade, food and crafts.... more
Oct3

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Bobby Bare!  Enjoy great classic country, southern... more
Oct4

The Bourbon Social/Bourbon Brunch

Located in the heart of downtown Lexington at the Bodley Bullock House, enjoy a Kentucky... more
Oct4

The Raven 10K Trail Run

Join the Friends of Raven Run and Lexington Park and Recreation for the inaugural 10 K... more
Oct4

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Midlife Harmony!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more
Oct5

The Bourbon Social/VIP Progressive Dinner

This exclusive dinner will only support 50 guests.  Five groups of ten, start times... more
Oct6

The Bourbon Social/Beer, Bourbon & Bacon

Enjoy an eclectic menu and pairing in the historic gardens and lawns of Ashland, The... more
Oct8

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Blind Corn Liquor Pickets!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and... more
Oct9

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Will Reynolds!  Enjoy great classic country,... more
Oct9

The Bourbon Social/Keeneland Tailgate

Enjoy the traditional Keeneland Tailgate in a format unlike any other.  In a private... more
Oct9

The Bourbon Social/VIP Pre Event & Cocktail

The Celebrity Guest Chef Ed Lee will create Kentucky Proud hors d'oeuvres alongside a... more
Oct10

Kentucky Guild of Artists & Craftsmen Fall Fair

The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen’s Fall Fair is an event you cannot... more
Oct10

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Marty Stuart & Connie Smith!  Enjoy great... more
Oct10

The Bourbon Social/Main Event

The 2015 Main Event is an event not to miss!  The celebration will host the best of... more
Oct10

The Bourbon Social/Seminar Series

The 2015 seminar series will host 6 classes teaching, tasting and talking all things... more
Oct11

The Bourbon Social/Distillery Brunch

Located in the heart of the Jim Beam Distillery, guests will enjoy a Kentucky themed menu... more
Oct11

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  Keeton Zane Hilton!  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more
Oct13

Parson Dance Company

Exuberant. Virtuosic. Sensual. These words barely begin to describe the Parsons Dance... more
Oct15

Thursday Night Live

Featuring The Twiggenbury's!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great... more
Oct16

Liberty Hall - Our Beloved Ghost Tour

Liberty Hall is famous for its Gray Lady and other ghosts said to haunt the house and... more
Oct16

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, IIIrd Tyme Out!  Enjoy great classic country,... more
Oct16

The Bourbon Chase

An overnight relay adventure.  Teams of runners cover 200 miles of scenic byways... more
Oct16

The Camp Nelson Ghost Hunting Experience

This fundraising event will lead you on an actual ghost hunt on the Camp Nelson Civil War... more
Oct17

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Ronnie Dailey & Vincent!  Enjoy great classic... more
Oct18

Tunes in the Vines

Featuring:  The Twiggenburys.  Bring excitement to your Sunday and meet your... more
Oct22

Thursday Night Live

Featuring Tony and the Tanlines!  Beverages, food from local restaurants and great... more
Oct24

7th Annual Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show

Featuring Celebrity Chef Carla Hall.  Now in its seventh year, the Incredible Food... more
Oct24

Breeders’ Cup Festival Week

Come experience a multi-venue festival spotlighting live music, art, food and other... more
Oct24

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

Featuring:  Special Guest, Tanya Tucker!  Enjoy great classic country, southern... more
Oct27

Alltech National Horse Show

The National Horse Show is America’s oldest indoor horse show, firmly established... more
Oct27

CP National Horse Show

A week-long championship event held indoors at the Alltech Arena, Featuring... more
Oct27

PumpkinMania

Join Transylvania University for their 5th Annual event as they light hundreds of jack... more

Horses and Dogs

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES, HORSES Things have gone to the dogs this week at the Kentucky Horse Park. Of course there are still plenty of horses of various breeds to see (don't missthe Breeds Barn show),but just now ...

more

Camp Nelson

by Stuart, History Blogger

One of Kentucky's most unique--and important--Civil War sites is located just south of Lexington in Jessamine County.

Camp Nelson, established in 1863 on the Kentucky River, was founded as a supply ...

more

Western Dreamer

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES HORSES Standardbred pacer Western Dreamer is one of a special group of horses at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The Bay gelding--barn name Dreamer--is one of theretired champions in the Horse Park's ...

more

Lots of Ponies

by Margaret, Horse Blogger

HORSES, HORSES Ponies are taking plenty of jumps this week atthe Kentucky Horse Park. They and their riders are participatingin the U.S. Equestrian Federation Pony Finals Championships.

Pony Finals ...

more

Activist Laura Clay

by Stuart, History Blogger

Among the many innovators, reformers, and activists buried in the Lexington Cemetery is Laura Clay, a noted suffragist who spent her life vigorously fighting for women's rights.

Clay was born on ...

more

African Americans in the Bluegrass

Whether you are spending a day, a week or longer in the Bluegrass Region, you and your family will learn fascinating information about African Americans. Gleanings from your travels will become answers to questions that you might not ever have thought to ask.

History in the Heart of Downtown

The public square at the center of downtown was platted in 1780 as the site of the courthouse for the newly established PDF Boxtown of Lexington. The square has always been, and still is, a place where significant events and community activities have occurred. Archive records tell of a fight between a school teacher and a wildcat, controversial slave auctions, military drills, Civil War skirmishes, riots, hangings, speeches and fires that destroyed previous courthouses. This history has been inclusive of African Americans both enslaved and free.
By 1789, an area of the square had been designated as a marketplace and named after the market in London, England - Cheapside (old English ceapan means to buy). William Tucker (1787-1837), a free African American, was one of the merchants who advertised the sale of household items and spices from his stall. Farmers and others, during their monthly visits to transact legal business, bought, sold and swapped livestock and agricultural products. The sale activity, known as Court Day, ended in 1921. Historian J. Winston Coleman, Jr. documented two dozen dealers in Lexington who bought and sold the enslaved between 1833 and 1865. This commercial enterprise established Lexington as one of the largest slave markets in the south. The Cheapside Auction Block stood near Main Street in the general vicinity of the monument for J.C. Breckinridge. The historical marker giving an account of the sale of African Americans stands in the northeast courtyard on Short Street. It was placed on the former site of the whipping post, erected by order of town trustees in 1806.
The impressive Romanesque design courthouse, the fourth built on site, was erected between 1898 and 1900. The Tandy and Byrd Construction Company, owned by African Americans Henry Tandy and Albert Byrd, laid the brick under the stone façade. In 2003 the building became the Lexington History Center; it closed in 2012 for renovation.

Blue Note: A number of nationally known individuals started their lives in Kentucky. Vertner Tandy (1885-1949), son of constructor Henry Tandy, became the first licensed architect in New York and a founding member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternal organization. He designed the New York mansion of Madam C.J. Walker, the hair care product millionaire and Berea Hall dormitory on the campus of Lincoln Institute, Simpsonville.

AfAmDNT In 2009, Cheapside once again became an open-air market when area farmers and merchants began selling fresh produce and food products every Saturday from April through November. The pavilion also serves as performance space for musicians during "Thursday Night Live" and shelters those who attend local festivals, events and celebrations.
Walk around the square to read the wayside markers and stroll our downtown streets to view other points of interest. Historical Highway Markers are located throughout Lexington. Those highlighting African American history include: Doctors' offices at 118 N. Broadway; Historic Pleasant Green Baptist Church at 540 Maxwell Street; Lyman T. Johnson who integrated the University of Kentucky on Administration Drive; Polk/Dalton Infirmary at 148 Deweese Street; African Cemetery No. 2 at 419 East Seventh Street; The Colored Orphan Home at 644 Georgetown Street; The Agricultural and Mechanical Fair of Colored People at Georgetown Street past Nandino Drive; and Maddoxtown Community on Huffman Mill Road. Main Street Baptist Church will be placing a marker at their church in 2013 celebrating 150 years at their West Main Street location.

Blue Note: The Aviation Museum at Bluegrass Airport off Man-O-War Boulevard and U.S. Hwy 60 has an exhibit about the Tuskegee Airmen of Kentucky as well as other aviation history. 4316 Hanger Drive, behind the airport. (859)231-1219.

Equine Industry Superstars

Plan a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park by traveling down Hwy 922, Newtown Pike, to Iron Works Pike. On the way, you'll pass the Coldstream Research Farm on the left. It was once the thoroughbred breeding farm McGrathiana, owned by H.P. McGrath. On this farm worked Oliver Lewis, the African American jockey who won the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875. The winning thoroughbred was Aristides, trained by renowned African American Ansel Williamson. Williamson was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1998. Outlining a portion of the original boundary of the farm is a rock wall fence. A sign designates that it was crafted by African American masons who had replaced the Scottish and Irish immigrant stone masons of the 1840s and 1850s.

Admission to the Kentucky Horse Park includes both the International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddle Horse Museum. African Americans were the national sports superstars during the early development of the thoroughbred racing and Saddlebred horse industries. There are memorials to Isaac Murphy, the first African American jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies, and the famous thoroughbred, Man-O-War and his groom, Will Harbut. "The Buffalo Soldiers of the Western Frontier" is a permanent exhibit housed in the International Museum of the Horse. Pick up a DVD produced by the American Saddlebred Association entitled "Out of the Shadows", the story of African American trainers and owners. (859)233-4303.

Blue Note: The rock fences seen as you travel the roadways are of limestone that was uncovered in fields being cultivated for agriculture as well as quarried. Most were dry laid - without the use of mortar. The Lexington Fayette Urban County government has ordinances in place that encourage the preservation and restoration of area stone fences. The nonprofit Dry Stone Conservancy has taken on the task of preserving and restoring the stone fences by conducting workshops to train new masons in old techniques. Look for signs that designate the dates, styles and builders of these fences.

African Americans played an important role in the development of the racing industry. Stop by the Lexington Public Library downtown and you'll see a mural highlighting a number of influential early African American jockeys, and the world's largest ceiling clock as well! (859)231-5501.

The Stories of Slaves and Soldiers

Another day's tour can take you just outside Lexington to Waveland, site of a restored historic mansion and slave quarters. Head south on Nicholasville Road, then turn right onto Waveland Museum Lane. The stone building where the enslaved were housed and worked has been preserved and furnished with period artifacts. The guides tell you the history of enslaved on the property in conjunction with the story of the Bryan family, relatives of Daniel Boone, who lived in the Mansion house. (859)272-3611.

Leaving Waveland, turn right onto Hwy 27 again and travel south past Nicholasville, taking the 27 Bypass. Signs let you know you are approaching Camp Nelson, established in 1863 as a supply camp for the Union Army during the Civil War. It became the third largest recruitment and training center for African Americans who formed the regiments known as the United States Colored Troops. Kentucky recruiters enlisted 23,700 African Americans, primarily among those who were enslaved. Some 10,000 began their training at Camp Nelson.

The camp originally encompassed 4,000 acres and held 300 buildings which were dismantled following the war. The house that was used as headquarters was saved and has been restored. Guided tours are available. A self guided tour of the grounds will lead you to the camp's earthen fortifications which are being restored. A number of artifacts which have been unearthed can be viewed in the interpretive center, a replica of a barracks. Camp Nelson Heritage Park was added to the National Parks Underground Railroad Network to Freedom in 2007.

The third weekend in September, the park celebrates Camp Nelson Days. The site comes alive with re-enactors of the 12th Heavy Regiment of the USCT and other military units. Lectures and demonstrations (firing of the cannon, cavalry charges, open fire cooking) help you experience some of what camp life was like for the soldiers as well as the families who escaped slavery and became free.

Adjacent to the Heritage Park is the National Military Cemetery. In an original section, the grave sites of African American soldiers can be found. Check the list of those who are interred to see if you might have relatives who were veterans.

Just beyond the park are several Kentucky Highway Markers that tell the history as it relates to the formation of the Hall community and the Ariel school established following the closing of the camp. (859)881-5716.

Blue Note: The town of Nicholasville is the birthplace of Morgan and Marvin Smith, the twin brothers whose photography captured images of Harlem, New York between 1935 and 1952.

Cousins of Influence

Lexington and Richmond are the locations of homes of two influential men who were cousins. Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate is located at 120 Sycamore Drive, just off Richmond Road. At its zenith, the estate encompassed over 600 acres which were developed, cultivated and harvested by 50 enslaved at one time by Mr. Clay's telling. The farming operations also included active livestock breeding of horses, sheep and cattle. An interpretive history of the work performed by the enslaved in the management of the farm and household is presented. There are archival panels along with a sketch of Charles Dupuy, a member of the family responsible for the personal care of the Clay household. The Dupuy family traveled to Washington, D.C. when Henry Clay was appointed Secretary of State in 1825 and lived in the Decatur house, the Clay's official residence. The story of Charlotte Dupuy's lawsuit filed in 1829, petitioning for her freedom as well as that of her two children, is truly fascinating. Charlotte did not win the suit, but Henry Clay did finally emancipate her and her two children, Charles and Mary Ann, in the 1840s. There are archive photos of the T.H. Hummons' family and other African Americans who were employed in the household from the 1900s to 1964. (859)266-8581.

From the Henry Clay estate, turn right onto Richmond Road and take I-75 South to Richmond, exit 95, to discover White Hall State Historic Site, the home of Henry Clay's cousin. The road leads to the home of Cassius Marcellus Clay - not the boxer - but the man who served as Ambassador to Russia during Abraham Lincoln's presidency. Cassius became an ardent emancipationist, having freed 50 of those enslaved to him in 1844. He printed the True American, a newspaper in 1845 promoting the emancipation of the enslaved. White Hall, a 44 room Italianate mansion, makes an impressive appearance as you approach the entrance.

Blue Note: Cassius M. Clay supported the founding of Berea College in 1855, donating both land and money. Founder John G. Fee promoted the idea of a school where students from the Appalachian region could be educated regardless of race and income. Julia Britton, grandmother of Benjamin Hooks, Director of the NAACP, John H. Jackson, first president of Kentucky State University and Carter G. Woodson, founder of Black History Week, were graduates. The college is located in Berea, KY, just south of Richmond. You can spend a full day in the town enjoying the food, crafts and history.

At the right rear of the house is a stone building that was used as housing and workspace for the enslaved. Several of the original outbuildings have also been restored. One serves as the Gift Shop and location for admission to the home. There are picnic tables and restroom facilities, so plan for lunch or a late afternoon snack on the grounds. (859)623-9178

An Afternoon in Paris

A scenic drive to Paris will take you past historic horse farms and more rock wall fences. Take Broadway/Paris Pike, Hwy 68 North from Lexington. One of the first stops should be the Thoroughbred Training Center located at 3380 Paris Pike. This facility actually trains future champion horses. You do need to be there before 9 a.m. if you want to see the horses put through their paces. Observing the work here will help you understand what is involved in the care and preparation of thoroughbreds for their careers in racing.

In earlier times, the tasks you observe would have been performed by African Americans, many of whom were children and young males. At age seven and eight, they started working in the barns and stables. By ten years of age some were being mounted on the horses as exercisers. Jockeys Isaac Murphy and William Walker began riding at the age of 11 and Raleigh Colston, Jr. rode in his first Kentucky Derby at the age of 13 in 1875. (859)293-1853. Reservations recommended.

If you have stopped at the training center, return to Paris Pike and continue into town. Visit the Hopewell Museum, (859)987-7274, located in the old Paris post office at 800 Pleasant Street. There is a permanent display featuring Garrett Morgan, inventor of the traffic signal and gas mask. Look for the Kentucky Historical Highway Marker at 10th and Vine Streets that marks the birthplace of Garrett Morgan.

Several quaint, independently owned restaurants make great lunch or dinner stops to round out your afternoon in Paris.

A Hamlet and a Railroad Town

Leaving Lexington from another direction, head west on Leestown Road (Hwy 421) and you'll pass an African American community established in 1865 by Frederick Braxton, founder and minister of the Main Street Baptist Church in Lexington. He had purchased land and sold small acreage to other blacks after emancipation. They named the community in his honor, Bracktown.

Stay on Hwy 421 until you reach Midway. Turn left at Hwy 62 which will lead you to town. Don't be surprised to find that the railroad tracks run through the middle of the street. When goods were delivered by rail, it made it convenient to off load supplies directly to stores. On Railroad Street, a marker pays tribute to Edward Dudley "Dick" Brown. He was born into slavery in Lexington about 1848. R.A. Alexander purchased him at auction around 1856 and brought him to the Woodburn farm in Woodford County where he began his career as a stable boy. He eventually advanced to exerciser, jockey, trainer and finally owner of his own thoroughbred, Ben Brush, 1896 Kentucky Derby winner. Also in town are Historical Markers detailing the history of the Second Christian Church, Smith Street; Pilgrim Baptist Church, 133 East Stephen Street and St. Matthews AME Church, 112 S. Winter Street. They are within walking distance from Railroad Street.

A Capital Idea

Leaving Midway, get back on Hwy 421 and follow it into Frankfort, Kentucky's capital. Take the by-pass until you see the sign directing you to Kentucky State University. Founded in 1887 by act of legislature, it became the first state supported school to train African Americans to become teachers. John H. Jackson, a native of Lexington, became its first president. Recitation Hall was the first building completed in 1887 by stone mason, James C. Brown. The building was renamed Jackson Hall and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The building is now the office/museum of the Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African Americans. Visit the Welcome Center to view a display on African American history. Visitor permit parking is available.

Other sites to visit in Frankfort are the Memorial to United States Colored Troops at the Greenhill Cemetery, the Kentucky Military History Museum, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, Kentucky State Capitol and Old State Capitol. Historic Markers are located at St. John AME Church, 210 West Clinton; 1st Baptist Church at 100 W. Clinton and Emily Thomas Tubman House on Washington Street.

For more information call VisitLEX, the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, at (800) 845-3959.
Written by Yvonne Giles, December 2008

updated: March 2014