The holidays are here, and soon you’ll be welcoming friends and family members from out of town. It seems like whenever people visit Kentucky for the first time, they are pleasantly surprised at the charm, beauty, and uniqueness that Kentucky has. But as residents of the Bluegrass State, we know we are lucky to live here. Despite the stereotypes that exist about our state, we don’t mind having to explain the real Kentucky to out of towners. Here are some things we will gladly review with non-Kentuckians.
1. Bluegrass isn't actually blue.
It's actually a very vibrant shade of green, but it does have blue blooms when it is allowed to grow to its full length.
2. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.
There are some very precise "bourbon laws" when it comes to distilling Kentucky's native spirit, but the most general explanation is that bourbon must be made with at 51 percent corn, and is only made in America.
3. The correct pronunciation of Louisville.
Most people from other states pronounce Kentucky's largest city as "Loueyville," but locals pronounce it "Lou-a-vull" or "LulVul." That usually is the biggest tell-tale sign that someone is an out of towner.
4. We don't all own horses.
But there are a lot of them. Lexington is known as the "Horse Capital of the World," and is home to Keeneland Race Course. The countryside around Lexington and in nearby towns such as Midway, Georgetown, and Versailles also have an abundance of gorgeous horse farms.
5. But we do cancel two straight weeks of responsibilities in order to celebrate a horse race.
The Kentucky Derby Festival kicks off with Thunder Over Louisville, the largest annual fireworks display in North America, two weeks before the running of the Kentucky Derby. There are tons of other events, such as a steamboat race, hot air balloon races, a marathon, concerts, dozens of parties, and a full week of racing at Churchill Downs. People will even go to the backside of the track at dawn to watch the Derby contenders work out leading up to the Saturday race.
6. We have a deep appreciation for our natural beauty.
We're not just horse farms and tobacco fields. Kentucky is undoubtedly one of the best states for hiking, camping, and exploring. Must-visit locations are the Appalachian Mountains, the Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone National Forest, Cumberland Falls, Mammoth Cave National Park, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, and more.
7. But we're not just a bunch of hillbillies. There's actually a lot of culture, progress, and innovative ideas coming from Kentucky.
Just a couple of the biggest examples: In 1883, Thomas Edison revealed his newest invention - the incandescent light bulb - at the Southern Exposition in Louisville. More recently in 1999, a team of doctors from various Louisville hospitals performed the first successful hand transplant in the world.
8. Kentucky actually has a vibrant art scene.
The National Quilt Museum in Padcuah showcases quilts from all over the world at this western Kentucky destination. In 2013, Paducah was named a "City of Crafts and Folk Art" by UNESCO, becoming only the seventh city in the world to earn the title. In central Kentucky, the town of Berea is known as "The Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky."
9. We've excelled at the written word as well.
Famous authors and journalists from Kentucky include Wendell Berry, Diane Sawyer, Hunter S. Thompson, Barbara Kingsolver, Thomas Merton, Robert Penn Warren, and more.
10. We also enjoy being a huge player in the culinary world.
It's an agricultural state, and many of the best restaurants in Kentucky use local meat and produce. We've also had our fair share of chefs earn major honors from the James Beard Fountain such as Kathy Cary from Lilly's Bistro (food from Lilly's pictured above), Ed Lee from 610 Magnolia, Anthony Lamas from Seviche, and Ouita Michel from Holly Hill Inn.
11. We've produced some world class athletes, too.
The most well-known athlete from Kentucky is boxer Muhammad Ali, but we also have baseball player Pee Wee Reese, Olympic swimmer Mary T. Meagher, basketball player Darrell Griffith, and more.
12. However, if you ever do find yourself in a small town tucked away somewhere in rural Kentucky, you will be greeted with the best Southern hospitality that will make you want to keep visiting.