Some people live in a state, others interact with and actually “become” at one with their state. A person can spend their entire lifetime just living somewhere without actually feeling a part of it. There are key things that truly capture the Bluegrass spirit in our state, and once you have done at least a few of them, you become an official Kentuckian.
11. Take a sip of Kentucky Bourbon, or something that contains it.
To some Kentuckians, our bourbon is like the ribbon cut at opening ceremonies. It is the beginning of everything from Mint Juleps to bourbon balls, and a renowned part of our history. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon in Kentucky. Whether it is Four Roses, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, or another, each brand has their own distinctive flavor. It could be due to the wood for the barrel, distilling method or aging process.
10. If you don’t drink bourbon, at least understand it.
Bourbon enthusiasts see bourbon like wine connoisseurs see wine and Bardstown is their capital. The taste, process, subtle flavors and history of bourbon are all important. We can learn about the special brew via enlightening bourbon historical and distillery tours, along with festivals. The top 5 bourbon festivals are; Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Owensboro Bourbon and Blues Festival, Kentucky State Barbecue Festival in Danville, Kentucky Derby in Louisville, and Kentucky’s Fort Harrod Beef Festival in Mercer County.
9. See the Kentucky Derby.
Even if you are not a horse racing fan, seeing the Derby up close and personal helps one gain perspective. Otherwise you may never understand why our state seems to develop equestrian fever the last week in April and first weekend in May each year.
8. Understand our art at the Folk Art capital.
Berea is a great place to visit as it is home to lots of folk art galleries and locations, along with Berea University. The history of the Appalachian arts is drawn to this town, and represented for everyone to see and understand.
7. Visit the Gorge.
Daniel Boone National Forest is home to the Red River Gorge, which is an extremely beautiful part of Kentucky to visit or camp at. There is plenty to do and experience. People tend to boat, hike, rock climb, camp, fish and just soak up nature in the magic of the Gorge.
6. See the moonbow.
A visit to Cumberland Falls is a breathtaking experience in itself. The moonbow is equally so, but add the moon in a twilight sky, and you have magic.
5. Visit historic Bardstown.
Bardstown has a beautiful historic district, is the bourbon capital, and home to the Federal Hill, aka, My Old Kentucky Home State Park. This small town has actually been deemed one of the most charming small towns in the United States. There is an abundance to see and do in town, and they all give you a real taste of Kentucky.
4. Broaden your barbecue perspective.
Barbecue in Kentucky is not JUST barbecue, but also burgoo. Both burgoo and the barbecue taste depend solely on the region or the restaurant you obtain it at. Some might have a very vinegar/ketchup type of flavor. Others might be sweet and savory with a smoke flavor. Some are thick and rich, others sweet and tangy. Both can consist of mutton, beef, pork, chicken or tofu… if you are so minded. You might have one favorite till you try another, so experiment and get in touch with your inner barbecue nerd.
3. Go to a real Bluegrass Music show.
The Kentucky Bluegrass Music and Burgoo Festival takes place September 2nd through 4th this year in Louisville. Festival goers get to enjoy a beautiful view of the Ohio River along with a variety of burgoo specialities and Bluegrass tunes. If the festival doesn’t appeal to you, just look for a Bluegrass music show nearby. You likely won’t be disappointed.
2. Shop at a farmer's market.
One thing Kentucky is known for is our rich farmlands and farm fresh foods. A chain grocer may be closer, but the rich, flavorful foods you can get at your local farmer’s market are a real treat. You will taste the difference in the mass produced and small farmed goods.
1. Slow down.
You can rush through life, working, sleeping and eating, and forget how to live. Some people think Kentuckians are slow, but we’re not. We just slow things down, look around, and try to enjoy the simple things in life. Mind you, sometimes even a Kentuckian gets in a mad rush, but we try not to.
These are just a few things that make residents of our state official Kentuckians. I am sure there are plenty of other things you all feel make us part of this state. The longer you live here, the more a part of the land you can become if you want. When you think of an official Kentuckian, what comes to mind?