The Governor's Downtown Derby Celebration

The Official Derby Celebration Poster
My favorite Derby Day tradition happens during the morning of the first Saturday in May. For many years, the event was dubbed the "Derby Breakfast." It was held at the grounds of the Capitol and breakfast was provided by the Commonwealth to all who wanted to attend, free of charge.

Times have changed, but I think for the better! Due to budget cuts, breakfast is no longer provided. Instead, the Celebration was moved to the Old Capitol and downtown business district of Frankfort - giving local restaurants, food trucks and merchants a chance to shine!

Coordinated in large part by Downtown Frankfort, Inc., the day's activities vary widely. Bands will take the stage in front of the Old Capitol to provide entertainment. Children can participate in stick horse races and the Derby Dash race down Broadway hosted by the Frankfort YMCA. The highlight is a fun bicycle race called the Pedal for the Posies. Local business and civic leaders don ridiculous costumes and race on children's bikes to claim the trophy.

Come enjoy this free event! Bring a little cash to sample traditional breakfast fare from one of the local restaurants or foodtrucks (my favorite is the country ham biscuit from the KY Pork Producers' truck!). Stop by one of the local watering holes for a Bloody Mary or Mimosa.

Start your Derby Day off right!

Capturing the Beauty of Central Kentucky

In a time of great tragedy and sadness, it's important to remind ourselves of the goodness and beauty that exists in this world.

Maybe I'm biased, but out of all the places I've visited, I cannot think of a more gorgeous place than Kentucky in the springtime.  Even the cloudy days are stunning. 

This spring, I've spent a great deal of time outside with my camera trying to capture some of this beauty in my own "backyard" in Central Kentucky.  From the tulips at the Kentucky State Capitol, to the iconic horses and their foals grazing in newly green pastures, the natural beauty that surrounds us is simply breathtaking.  Here are just a few of my favorite photographs:

As our country copes with yet another senseless tragedy, I encourage you to take a moment to appreciate the beauty in your own life.  And, there is no better time than the present to step outside and take a look around.

Springtime Photo Ops

Is there anyplace more beautiful than Kentucky in Spring?

One of my favorite ways to see the Bluegrass State is by foot - hiking at Red River Gorge always provides some excellent photo opportunities:

The Underside of Sky Bridge 
The underside of Sky Bridge

Visiting small towns and exploring on foot is another great way to find beauty in Kentucky's spring. I'm a little partial, but our Capital City is beautiful this time of year.

Spring Tulips
Tulips at the Capitol
Another great way to explore Kentucky's outdoors is by water. Spring rains bring up the water table and make for perfect conditions to see the extensive waterways of Kentucky.
We just kayaked that.
Elkhorn Creek in Early Spring (kayaks rented from Canoe Kentucky)
Central Kentucky offers any number of scenic driving tours, as well. Follow the blue and white signs for the Bluegrass Driving Tour, or download a map of the Dreamer driving tour from the Visitors Bureau.
Near Midway and Weisenberger Mill

The HerKentucky 60 Things Project: Frankfort

In Sunday's Herald-Leader,  Cheryl Truman, with the help of many readers, listed 50 things that define Lexington.  We thought it would be fun to make a similar HerKentucky list, with 10 things that define our respective hometowns.  Where better to start than Kentucky's capital city? Here's Lydia's list of things that define Frankfort.

via Kentucky Tourism Apps.
1. The Grey Lady of Liberty Hall. Nothing like scaring the wits out of yourself by walking past on Halloween and timidly looking up to see if she's watching you from a second floor window.

2. Gene Burch Photography. While his dental skills and practice are top-notch, every Frankfort resident recognizes Dr. Burch's photography of our capital city, especially his iconic three spires photograph. His photo calendar always hung on my mom's kitchen wall.

3. The Capitol Buildings (Old and New). Admittedly, this is a bit self-indulgent, but if you were a teenager at Frankfort High School between 1994 and up through the current year, it's likely that you hung out at one of the Capitol buildings.  Frankfort isn't exactly known for its Things To Do If You're A Teen, and hanging out at the Capitol bench or the Old Capitol stone wall is our version of "cruising."

4. The Black Cat Chase. The 5K race, held at night, near Halloween is an annual fundraiser for the Frankfort YMCA. It seems that all of Frankfort participates in this race - whether you're a hardcore runner or a grandma in jeans and a t-shirt. It's a fun time and lots of folks wear costumes.

5. The Smell of Sour Mash. On crisp mornings, you can often start your day with a whiff of sour mash cooking at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It's pervasive all over town. Some people hate it. Personally, I love it.

6. The Frankfort Cemetery. It's just plain beautiful and features Daniel Boone's grave in a prime location that overlooks downtown Frankfort.

7. The Grand Theatre. Recently restored, this entertainment venue was once a vaudeville theater and now features arts performances ranging from opera to children's theater.

via Kentucky Tourism
8. The Switzer Covered Bridge. On the edge of Franklin County is the small community of Switzer, best known for its covered bridge. The bridge washed downstream in the Flood of 1997 but has been restored. It's a perfect place to visit for a fall picnic.

9. Elkhorn Creek. Flowing throughout central Kentucky, the Elkhorn meanders through Franklin County and empties into the Kentucky River here. Local fisherman, canoeists and kayakers enjoy the waterway.

10. Rebecca Ruth Candies, because who doesn't love a bourbon ball?

My Kentucky–Downtown Frankfort

I live in our Commonwealth’s capital city, only about four blocks from the Capitol. (That’s the first lesson you learn in my town – the difference between “capital” and “capitol.”)
Y’all. My town is beautiful. Your capital city is beautiful! I love it more than any place in the world. I hope you like it, too. Here are some of my favorite places in the old parts of town – South Frankfort and Downtown Frankfort.
I sat on the wall along the South Frankfort Presbyterian Church’s and ate lunch nearly everyday when I was a Freshman in high school. My alma mater didn’t have a cafeteria back then.
This building housed the first YMCA in town. It’s been vacant for as long as I can remember. I’ve never thought it was a very beautiful building, but a group of preservationists are working to turn it into our town’s first boutique hotel. It sits right on the Kentucky river next to what we affectionately name The Singing Bridge. This bridge, now the site of an open-grate roadbed steel bridge originally had an old-fashioned covered bridge to serve folks coming from Louisville to the Old Capitol Building.
This building was originally a post office. I know it best as the library. It’s currently owned by Kentucky State University and is being remodeled. I’d love to go up into that turret.
There is always a renovation or restoration project in progress in our downtown. I’d not noticed that this one was in the midst of one until I shot this photo and realized that the column is only partially painted. I’m not sure if this is an active renovation or if it got stalled along the way and the plans have been abandoned for exterior work. The building houses businesses and apartments.
This portion of St. Clair street used to be a pedestrian-only mall paved with bricks and lined with trees. About 10 years ago, the city revamped the mall to allow for mixed traffic use. I was devastated at the thought of it, but I have to admit that they did it well. The bars and restaurants have ample room for outdoor seating. Pedestrians have room to walk. People have room to gather and traffic flows in a single-lane, one-way pattern. The jeweler’s clock has been standing sentry over this part of town for many years (the jeweler’s been in business since 1872).
This little guy was tied to a lamp post outside the coffee shop while his owners ordered their coffee. That’s one of the great things about my town – no one will bother this dog unless it’s with scratches behind the ear. If it were a hot day, the shop owner would offer up a bowl of water for him. People care around here.
I love the paint scheme on these buildings on Broadway – the only street in town divided by railroad tracks. If I had a wide-angle lens you’d see that the buildings continue on to the left of this picture. The entire city block is filled with locally-owned businesses including a specialty wine and liquor shop, an antique store, a book store owned by a former Kentucky Poet Laureate, a café, a Kentucky artisan shop and an upscale dining spot.
Directly across from those shops stands the Old State Capitol building. It’s surrounded by a walled park featuring brick-laid walkways and a fountain and is a beautiful spot. While it was once the site of political machinations and even a gubernatorial assassination in 1900, today, the building serves as part of the state’s Historical Society and the grounds are the site of summer concerts and many picnics and playdates.
Our town, like any small town you’ll find in the South is home to a great number of churches. The ones downtown are the oldest and, to me, most beautiful. These two, in particular, remind me of England and cottage gardens (not that I’ve ever been there!). Fittingly, one of them is the Anglican church!
As a town first settled in the 1780s, Frankfort has its fair share of historic homes. These are two of my favorites.
I found this front gate decoration in front of the historic Liberty Hall. Legend has it that the house is haunted and that you can sometimes see The Gray Lady at one of the upstairs windows.
The grounds of the historic homes are open to the public. In elementary school, we would often walk to them in the spring time and spend an afternoon reading or exploring. Can’t you just imagine a garden party in this spot?
Finally, crossing back over to my side of the river, you can see where the painter Paul Sawyier was so inspired by the area.
It won’t be long until the Capitol grounds crew has these guys out and ready for photographing, again. The tulips in bloom signal spring’s arrival and prompt lots of family photo opportunities.
Just a few short weeks after the tulips, it’s Derby time!