Local traditions and culture in Kentucky

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Kentucky

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    Kentucky Shakespeare Festival

    by pabertra Written Apr 8, 2007

    The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival is a cultural event which features free Shakespeare performances every summer in Central Park in Old Louisville. Begun as the Carriage House Players in 1949, it is the oldest free and independently-operating Shakespeare festival in the United States. Between 12,000 and 15,000 visitors watch the festival's Shakespeare performances each summer. The festival has never charged admission because, as their website proclaims, "we stand by our firm belief that art is for everyone – rich, poor, educated, illiterate, healthy or disabled".

    During the fall, winter, and spring, the festival tours schools, assists teachers in teaching Shakespeare, and sets up performances by and for inmates of Kentucky's prisons.

    The Globe Players is an advanced theatre company for high school students. Each summer, The Globe Players produce a full-length Shakespeare play and perform it on three evenings during Kentucky Shakespeare Festival’s summer season on the C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheatre stage in Central Park.

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    state symbols

    by davecallahan Written Apr 5, 2007

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    state motto: united we stand, divided we fall

    present state slogan: "Kentucky, unbridled spirit"

    state nickname: "Bluegrass State"

    state flag is the state seal on a blue background

    state seal: a pioneer (Daniel Boone) and a politician (Henry Clay) clasping hands in unity; golden rod (the state flower) is around the border

    state tree: tulip poplar

    state flower: goldenrod

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    peaceful and slow

    by davecallahan Updated Mar 23, 2007

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    Things do not seem to move fast in Kentucky (except the motorists on their highways).
    But in general, you have to learn to wait and be patient for everything else.

    We are from New York where "time is money". Here in Kentucky "time is meant to be spent".
    In other words, if it is worth doing then it is worth taking your time to do it.
    And there is no way to rush anyone. If you get pushy, the natives just smile and say "it'll be jest a few more minutes" and continue doing whatever it is at a steady relentless pace.

    It is much like Einstein's equations for relativity: things take longer and distances are always farther than indicated ("jest down the road a piece" can mean 20 miles).

    Although it drove me batty at first, I found that if I went with the flow, then everything got done and nobody was upset and life was fine.

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    St. James Court Art Show

    by pabertra Written Nov 16, 2006

    The St. James Court Art Show began five decades ago as a small open air art fair taking up only a small corner of Old Louisville's St. James Court. It has since grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 700 artists coming from every corner of the country to display every imaginable type of art work, including paintings, drawings, prints, watercolors, ceramics, pottery and hand decorated porcelain, jewelry, floral arrangements, metal work, wood work, furniture, toys, crafts, stained glass and art glass, windows, clothing, needlework, ...and the list goes on and on. All exhibitors are expected to have produced the art work with their own hands.

    The St. James Court Art Show has long outgrown its original location, now crowding every inch of St. James, and Belgravia Courts, as well as significant areas of Magnolia, 3rd and 4th Streets, and Central Park. Well over a quarter million people attend the three day event, enjoying the fine autumn weather and the elegant Victorian surroundings

    Important Info:
    Held annually the first full weekend in October.

    You don't need to pack a lunch. Concessions available: hot dogs and brats, crab cakes and gyros, chicken, barbecue hot off the smoker, elephant ears and other "fair" food. Refreshments of soft drinks, wine, cold beer or (on cool days) hot cider are not hard to find.

    For a break, tour the Conrad-Caldwell House, or one of the private homes that often open their doors for house tours during the fair.

    Parking may be a problem, especially if you don't come early. Later in the day, expect to pay at least $5 to $10 if you want to park near the action.

    The Central Park West Association provides valet parking (for about $10)! Drop off and pick up is at 6th and Magnolia.

    After the Art Show on Friday and Saturday, you can continue the celebration into the night seven blocks north on Fourth Street between Chestnut and Broadway at Oktoberfest Louisville. Live Music & Entertainment, German Food and Free Admission!

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    Music is a tradition here in Eastern Kentucky

    by Gra8ful Written Oct 7, 2005

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    This is my Pastor, Rev. Ed Houston, Just picking away. He is an awesome singer and can play just about anything. My dad also can sing and play guitar. I play bass and guitar at times myself. Here in Eastern Kentucky it's not unusual to have a great singer in just about every household. There are a lot a famous singers from Eastern Kentucky like: The Judd's, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Scaggs, Keith Whitley, Patty Lovelace, the list goes on.
    What is Sacred Harp singing? Sacred Harp singing is the largest surviving branch of traditional American Shape Note Singing. “Sacred Harp” refers to The Sacred Harp, a book first published in 1844 and continuously updated since. Along with other hymn books from the era, its repertoire of 550 4-part a cappella hymns, odes, and anthems is part of the foundation of a vibrant oral tradition handed down since Colonial times and still practiced at hundreds of annual singing meetings, conventions, and local singing groups throughout the country. There's no harp in Sacred Harp singing -- no instruments at all. Just the power of voice, in four-part harmony. The origin of the music goes back centuries -- first in England, then in colonial New England, then the music migrated south, where it took root.

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    Keeping Old Traditions Alive: Berea College

    by deecat Updated Jan 12, 2005

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    Berea College, near Lexinton in the town of Berea, is certainly unique; students pay NO TUITION. Instead, they work on campus, many at school-owned businesses. Most students at Berea today are Kentuckians of limited means, but there are students from all over the world who come here to learn about the Appalachian Culture. All students have to work at least ten hours a week, and the money goes toward their tuition. Many people come to check out how this special place works; others come to the famous Boone Tavern Hotel and Dining Room that is run by Berea students.
    Another interesting fact about Berea has to do with its beginnings. Founded before the Civil War, Berea College was an interracial education institute until 1904 when interracial schools in Kentucky were deemed illegal The law was finally changed again in 1950 so it's an interracial institute once more.
    I personally was impressed with all of the artistic handcrafted products offered for sale on campus. Of course, students make all of these products.
    The college students do take science, math, history, and the humanities courses, but they also are required to take Appalachian Culture and Crafts Classes. Students make pottery, handwoven articles, quilts, and furniture among other things.
    There is also an Appalachian Museum on campus where you're able to see traditional crafts demonstrated. This museum brings to life the traditional Appalachian culture. There are displays about farming, blacksmithing, vegetable dyes, cooking over an open fire, and, of course, arts and crafts.
    (See photo of student working with potterty wheel)

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    Eastern Kentucky University

    by deecat Written Jan 12, 2005

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    Another personal connection that I had with Kentucky. besides my parent's home, was my daughter's university.
    Jill's first year in college was spent in Richmond, Kentucky, at Eastern Kentucky University. Ironically, the university was on the opposite side of Kentucky from my folks.
    Needless to say, we made a few trips to the eastern portion of the state. Richmond is located south of Lexington, and that is when I did all the sightseeing of Lexington, Shakertown, Fort Boonesborough State Park, Berea College and Harrodsburg.
    The photograph shows Jill receiving her bid to join ALPHA GAMMA DELTA at Eastern Kentucky Univeristy on Bid Day, 1988. Jill is on the left of the picture; the girl on the right was her "big sister".

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    Shaker Village: A Way of Life

    by deecat Updated Jan 10, 2005

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    A very interesting place to visit is south of Lexinton in Pleasant Hill that is called Shaker Village. It was settled in Kentucky in 1809 and is one of the 19 Shaker communities in the United States. Who were the Shakers? Well, they were a religious group who believed in a simple life that is filled with love and peace". They also belive that work is worship; they also think that doing less than your best when you work is an insult to God. No wonder their products are so wonderful.

    Note: photo from brochure

    Shakers make everything they need by hand.
    They have many festivals and craft shows. If you visit Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, you will be able to see the craftspeople at work making candles, creating soap, making their famous flat brooms, and spinning yarn.
    The Shakers were named for their habit of shaking during worship! These are the people who invented the flat broom, the clothespin, and were the first to package seeds in envelopes!
    Today, you can tour Pleasant Hill's 30 buldings for yourself.

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    Coal Miners and Share Croppers

    by deecat Updated Jan 9, 2005

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    My parents and grandparents often spoke with affection of the coal miners and share croppers in Kentucky. I grew up curious about the plight of both groups.
    I know that mining companies in Kentucky established towns such as Colmar, Lynch, and Jenkins where their workers lived in the houses that the mine actually owned. The miners purchased their food and everything else from stores that were also owned by the mines. The mine owners would mint currency called scrip, and the owners would pay their workers with this company scrip! Of course, the owners then had control of the value of the currency. It was so sad because the miners never could get out of debt. A Kentucky folksinger named Merle Travis wrote a song that told the world about the miner's situation. the song was called "Sixteen Tons". I loved that song and sang the refrain with gusto:
    "You load sixteen tons,
    and what do you get?

    Another day older
    and deeper in debt.

    St. Peter, don't you call
    me, 'cause I can't go...

    I owe my soul to the
    company store."

    Also, many Kentucky farmers would work as sharecroppers, and they would rent the land that they farmed from landowners. Then, the landowners required a percent of the value of the annual crop as payment. Sharecroppers had to borrow money to buy seeds, equipment, clothes, and food. Most sharecroppers, like the miners, were always in debt. Thus, they lived in desperate poverty.

    Thank goodness, things have changed over the years in Kentucky!

    Note: Photo from Surface Mining Book

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    Another Kind of "Civil" War: Hatfields & McCoys

    by deecat Updated Jan 9, 2005

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    Growing up in southern Illinois, my grandfather used to tell tales about one of the longest-running "civil" wars in Kentucky. He would tell us about these two families who would feud all the time, and with serious results.
    This took place throughout the late 1800s between two families within small Appalachian Mountain farming communities. The Hatfield family (most of the family members actually lived in West Virginia) and a Kentucky family named McCoys fought for years.
    It supposedly started when Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing a razorback hog! The feud lasted for about ten years and resulted in anywhere between 20 and possibly as many as 100 deaths
    Another tale my grandfather told was that the trouble began when a soldier from the pro-union McCoy family was found dead near the Hatfields' home. Of course, the McCoys thought that the Hatfields (who were Confederates) had killed the soldier; so, to get even, the McCoys killed a Hatfield.
    But, the most exciting story that I remember said that a Hatfield man and a McCoy woman tried to elope or run away to get married secretly. Sadly, the families caught them, and a battle ensued in which a Hatfield was shot. Later, three McCoy brothers were murdered.
    Now here's the "kicker"! Since that time, the two families have made amends, and each summer, get together for a Hatfield-McCoy reunion!!!

    You can imagine how exciting these tales were to a small southern Illinois girl...

    Hote: photo taken from archives

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    Kentucky and churches

    by johanl Updated Jan 10, 2003

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    Driving thru Kentucky, I was struck by the many different churches, everywhere you go.
    Every village and town has its own churches.People still attend church several times a week and also donate quite some money to it. Compared to western Europe, eg Belgium, it is a real difference.
    Churches have a social- economical goal and add a lot of quality to the local community.

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    DRY COUNTIES

    by johanl Updated Jan 8, 2003

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    A number of counties are so called "dry counties". No alcohol is sold and drinking in public is not allowed.
    In need for your portion of alcohol you will have to drive to a "wet county " and purchase the stuff overthere.

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    SHOOT OUTS

    by johanl Written Jan 8, 2003

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    It is a custom and hobby to have a shoot out, which means that some friends gather and shoot all kind of guns, making sure that the area is safe and no animals are shot. It is just target shooting for fun.

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    THE AMISH SOCIETY

    by johanl Written Jan 8, 2003

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    In southern Kentucky lives a large society of Amish people. They are very friendly and help you out in any way they can. Most of them run farms and sell the crops in shops they own. Try the home made jam and jellies.
    For transportation they use no cars as it is against their beliefs.

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  • Kentucky has so much to offer...

    by SirNicholas Written Aug 26, 2002

    Kentucky has so much to offer culturally. Visit the country and small towns and you sample local culture. Visit Louisville and Lexington to find colleges, symphonies, theatre, and internationally-famous equestrian events.

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