The HerKentucky 60 Things Project: Prestonsburg/ Floyd County

In last 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. Today, we're talking Floyd County, my Eastern Kentucky homeland.

Coal in my parents' backyard.
1. Jenny Wiley Theatre: A unique outdoor theater located in Prestonsburg's Jenny Wiley State Park. While the summer stock theater crowd pads their resumes, Eastern Kentuckians enjoy high-quality productions.  I've seen more revivals of Annie, Grease, and Steel Magnolias than I can count, along with the signature Jenny Wiley Story.

2. Billy Ray's: Originally a pool room, Billy Ray's has evolved over the years into Prestonsburg's favorite diner. The decor serves as a museum of Floyd County history, commemorating elections, the historical landscape, and the tragic 1950s school bus crash. Billy Ray's hamburgers are THE quintessential Floyd County food.

3. Route 23: The Country MusicHighway. The Road to theNorth. It's also the main highway through Floyd County.

The New Martin
4. Coal: Energy source,political bellwether, source of the local economy.  Coal is everywhere in Floyd County, and we all have some pretty intense feelings about it.

5. "The New Martin": A few years ago, the town of Martin was slated to be moved from within the flood plain. And then it wasn't. The old town remains.

6. Jenny Wiley State Park: The Boat Dock, the Golf Course, Dewey Dam -- the park holds so many memories for everybody who's ever lived in Floyd County.

7. Stonecrest Golf Course: It's located on top of a mountain. You can't get any more Floyd County than that.

8. The schools: With eight elementary schools, three middle schools, and four high schools, 
Floyd County's public school system is the county's largest employer.

9. Basketball: We love us some basketball in Floyd County. We follow our high school teams. We follow our grade school teams. We obsess about our beloved Kentucky Wildcats every day of the year.

The School's been closed for 20 years, but Wayland is home of the Wasps.
10. Lizzie B's: Although it's only been open for about a year, Lizzie B's has transformed the landscape of Floyd County dining. You can get a craft beer or a glass of wine with dinner. You can get a sandwich garnished with avocado and sprouts! Revolutionary stuff that I never expected to see in Floyd County.

Girls' Day in Prestonsburg

Today, I had the opportunity to see my hometown in a whole new light.
Laci and my mom read Fancy Nancy.

Like all towns, Prestonsburg has changed a lot over the years.  And, I've spent a lot of time away from home.  Needless to say, things are different than they when I was a kid.  Today, I went on a girls' trip with my mom and my 6 year-old cousin, Laci.  We did many of the same activities that Mom and I did on lazy summer afternoons when I was little, but it all felt so different.  It was really an amazing experience to see it all through Laci's eyes and remember my own childhood.

We took Laci to the local library.  When I was a kid, the library seemed so huge.  It was such a big deal to go there.  Going back, it seemed smaller. The selection was certainly different than I recalled.  The new children's area was so adorable.  We just happened to be there while the nursery rhyme mural was being painted!

Laci LOVED helping me sweeten my coffee!

We met two of our aunts for lunch.  When I was a kid, the fanciest place in town was Jerry's.  These days, we have a fancy cafe with such upscale offerings as lobster bisque and cappuccino.  It was certainly a culinary step up!!

We ended our adventure at Jenny Wiley State Park.  We walked along the river bank and visited the main Lodge.  My family spent so many fun summer days here when I was little; it was so fun to revisit those memories with my sweet cousin.  It was a charming way to see the town I've seen so many times.