Really more of an event than a custom...
Every year, White Hall State Historic Site hosts the popular annual event "A Haunting Evening with the Clay Family" in October. In 2004, dates were October 21, 22, 23, 29, 30 and 31. It happens in the evenings and guides lead groups from room to room and introduce the spirits of the past, who come out of the dimness to tell the tender and incredible stories of the illustrious Clay family. Each tour is limited to 20 persons. First performance at 7pm, and there are twelve tours a night. Reservations only; $10 per person. Call 859-623-9178 from 9 am to 5:30 pm
It's a really great deal because it's one of the few times that you can visit the house after dark. Since it is reputed to be haunted, it's a great time to visit it for that spooky feeling it omits.
White Hall is located in Richmond, off I-75 at exit 95.
God bless Eastern and Central Kentucky counties that haven’t lost their county fairs. With so many theme parks so close by now (Kentucky Kingdom, King’s Island, Dollywood…) and the huge state fair, it’s a wonder that they haven’t died out all together. Yet, every year like clockwork, we still have our county fair. Sure, the rides mostly consist of the til-ta-whirl, the scrambler, the big slide, and the ferris wheel but it’s more the tradition and the principle of the thing that makes us go. (And, for me, the Polish sausages.) 4-H still does their thing there and you can find homemade quilts and jams and dogs and horse and other competitions going on. We also have the Miss Madison County pageant (I was in it as a child!) and that’s always a big highlight. This year the admission was $8 and you could ride anything you wanted as many times as you wanted.
Although the dates vary, the fair usually runs during the last week in July.
My favorite way to kick off the holiday season is to go to the Christmas markets in Richmond. They usually occur on the first Saturday in December and everyone gets into it. The Parks and Recreation Center has a bazaar and gives free horse and carriage rides around downtown. The First Christian Church always has 4-H’ers set up selling their wares. (And it’s so hard not to buy from everyone because they’re just so darn cute!) St. Mark’s has a huge one and you really have to get there early to get the good stuff. Irvine McDowell does things as well, as do some of the other local churches. It’s a lot of fun and very festive and a good way to get out in the community. They’re very similar to the Christmas markets I’ve been to in Germany and Austria, although on a smaller scale. At least smaller than the one at the Schonbrunn in Vienna. But I digress…You can buy anything from tins of homemade cookies and pies to decorations and crafts. I usually go for the food myself. With the Christmas music playing and everyone in good moods it’s really easy to get caught up in the small town Christmas spirit.
One of my favorite things to do is to have tea at the Bennett House B&B. They have the tea on the first Saturday of every month and the times are 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00. Since they started them several years ago, we have not missed any unless we are out of the country. We have also stayed there several times and it is a lovely place. The tea is really good and almost a small meal. I really enjoy the scones with lemon curd.
You have to have reservations and they start taking them for the Christmas teas in October so it pays to plan ahead.
If you go, tell Richard and Rita that Brenda and Rebecca say "hi"!
The reenactment of the siege at the Fort can be very entertaining. I worked it one year and living historians come from all over the United States to participate. They usually set up camp in the large grassy area by the river and you can walk amongst them and check out their wares. It’s a great way to get firsthand knowledge of that era. Some of the people actually live like that year round and area always in character. They don’t have anything to do with things that were invented after that time period. It’s a little bizarre but most of the people are really friendly and open. During the siege they use real guns, but no bullets, and it can get loud and intimidating for the little ones. They also bring their horses and do everything they can to make it realistic. My job when I worked there that day was to dye cloth in berries. I was making red cloth. For six hours I stood out in the blistering sun, stirring my big cauldron of dye and fabric. One of the historians made me, from hand, a pair of leather moccasins. That made up for it.
The reenactment is free with park admission and starts at 2:00 pm on the 24th.
Whenever I am in town I always like going to the International Banquet. It is hosted by the International Education office at EKU and gives the international students a place to showcase their culture through song, dance, food, and costume. It sells out pretty quickly so you have to buy your tickets early. The food is wonderful and served buffet style. Last year over 20 nationalities were featured. They also do a parade of costumes and while you’re eating the students do performances native to their country. It’s a lot of fun.
The banquet goes on in November. Check the website for specific dates.
August 20, 2005
White Hall State Historic Site
Pops at the Park is one of my favorite things in Richmond. It’s basically EKU’s Philharmonic Orchestra, but what makes it extra special is that it’s set at White Hall. We’re going this year if the weather holds up. You can rent a table ($120 and it seats 6) or it’s $10 per person if you want to sit on a blanket. That’s what we do. The tables all compete in decorating themes and they can get really cute. The thing to remember is to bring your citronella candle, however. Mosquitoes can be bad, as we found out one year.
Four times a year Lexington hosts the New Earth Festival at the Continental Inn. I just call it what it is-the psychic fair. Oh yes, there are other things besides the psychics, but they’re the most fun. You have a bevy of options when it comes to the kind of psychics you want to see, too. You can choose one that reads tarot cards, or one that reads minds, or one that is strictly astrology oriented. You can even have a photo taken of your aura if you want to! (I’ve never done it. But it’s there.) Readings cost $25 for 15 minutes, which isn’t a great deal but if they’re not busy sometimes you can stay longer than 15.
If you don’t want to get a reading, you can go shopping. All of your Wicca, Pagan, and Druid needs can be met from the vendors. They sell everything from stones to herbs to pendants to books. And bumper stickers. I love the bumper stickers.
They also have little seminars that go on throughout the weekend. You can attend one on dream analysis, ghost watching, or increasing your psychic powers.
The cost of the fair is $10 per person, although if you bring a canned good it drops to $5. Admission is good for the whole weekend. Check their website for specific dates. They usually run in May, July, October, and February.
Every year Richmond has the big 4th of July festivities at Lake Reba. It’s a madhouse. I remember the first time they had it. I think I was about twelve. There were a lot of people there, but nothing like it is now. It’s the largest fireworks display in the area and they usually get a country music band, as well as some local bands, to provide the music. They have concession stands for food, but of course you can bring your own too and have a picnic. Parking can be a problem since most of Richmond seems to show up, but it’s a good time and the fireworks are pretty good. If you don’t mind being out in large crowds all day in the sun then this is definitely the place to be.
Empty Bowls is a yearly fundraiser held at one of the local churches. The location varies from year to year, but the quality doesn't. One enters and buys a ticket. After going in he/she can select a clay bowl from the hundreds on hand. All bowls are made either by local artists or Bybee Pottery. The bowls are then filled with soup for lunch or dinner. The purpose of this event is to raise money for the local food pantries. All proceeds go to directly to God's Pantry and other local pantries.
Feel free to read the story in this year's Richmond Register.
The Richmond Pow Wow is always a fun time for the whole family. It used to be held at EKU but in recent years has moved out to Lake Reba where there's more room. At the Pow Wow, you can watch Native American dancers, singers, and storytellers, and there are lots of opportunities for audience participation. There are also a lot of booths where things like arrowheads, musical instruments, books, and other Native American paraphernalia can be purchased. My favorite part are the living historians who set up in tents and traditional tee pees and recreate life from that time period. They dress in character and you can ask them questions and really feel as if you have stepped back in time.