Thursday, January 4, 2007

Mercer County Tourism

With tourism dollars leaving our county in record amounts, I think it is the responsibility of all Mercer Countians to help promote tourism. We are the ones living in this wonderful community, so we are the perfect people to describe all the breathtaking things Mercer County has to offer.

Since the Legend of Daniel Boone is no longer running, I feel a void in our community. Mr. Ralph Anderson and his wife have been so generous with supporting tourism in our county, but now it is up to the rest of us. In addition to telling people about tourist spots in Harrodsburg and the surrounding county, we need to be visiting these places ourselves.

With gas prices sky rocketing over the past year, traveling has become an expensive venture for most middle class families. Why not make up for that expense by visiting the tourist attractions in our county? Then after re-visiting these places again for yourself, tell all your friends and family about the beautiful things Mercer County has to offer.

Old Fort Harrods is still open for business, even with the closing of the legend of Daniel Boone. The Black Box Theater is currently the home of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit for the month of January and this is a great example of historical family entertainment. How long has it been since your family took a tour of the Old Fort or the lovely museum? Maybe this summer when you have family visiting from out of town or out of state, take them on a tour of the Old Fort and museum. Go on a picnic under the huge Osage orange tree in the front lawn of the park or have a family reunion in the shelter house and playground. Area. All money spent at the park will help to benefit the entire county and help build back our tourism trade.

Shaker Village at Pleasant hill is another historic site that many Mercer Countians take for granted, but this is another wonderful place to bring your family and friends. With 2900 acres of land, 40+ miles of walking trails, 34 restored Shaker buildings, and a historic boat ride, Shaker Village has something to offer everyone. You can learn about the history of the Shakers in Kentucky, learn about their religion and their trade business with the outside world.

Shaker Village also has numerous workshops and events help throughout year, so there is always something to do. Overnight lodging is also available and all 81 rooms are in restored Shaker buildings. Equestrians can bring their own horses to the village and ride on numerous marked trails. Music programs and Shaker Life and Beliefs talks are available through the spring, summer and fall as well as agricultural talks. There are on going demonstrations in wood working, broom making, coopering, and spinning and weaving. You can also visit the demonstration herb and vegetable gardens, along with the apple orchard. Animals abound on the Shaker Village land—horses, sheep cows, donkeys, ducks and geese—and there are usually plenty of baby animals, too.

The historic downtown area of Harrodsburg is also another tourist attraction for visitors. Not only are there many restored buildings and businesses, there is also a walking tour to allow for up close investigation of the many historic homes around the community. The Ragged Edge Theatre offers numerous presentations throughout the year, showcasing the many talented people of Harrodsburg and Mercer County. The water fountain park located next door to the Ragged Edge also hosts many musical performances during the summer. Downtown Harrodsburg is also host to car shows and motorcycle events which gives out-of-towners a taste of our quaint little town.

Historic Beaumont Inn is another tourist attraction with lots of home town appeal. Not only does the Inn offer spacious overnight lodging and good old Southern hospitality, but it is the home of the yellow-legged fried chicken and the best corn pudding since Granny Sallee’s. The Beaumont Inn Gift Shop offers eloquent gifts and souvenirs from around Kentucky. The Old Owl Tavern is the newest attention to the Beaumont Inn family, and as the name states, it is like a quaint old tavern. The tavern is a wonderful place to come and unwind after a long, hard days work.

Out in the county, Mercer is home to the Brightleaf Golf Course and Motel. This 18-hole golf course sits in the middle of some of the most beautiful land in the county. The greens are to perfection and the obstacles and scenery make this one of the best courses in the state.

Of course, Mercer County has numerous horse and cattle farms for the viewing. Anderson Circle Farm and the “Cow Palace” are big attractions and they also offer a large area for receptions, meetings, or any type of party you can think of. Many of the horse farms in the county offer riding trails, workshops and lessons

The Twin Hills Drive-In is another treasure that I personally am glad to see reopened. You may not think of a drive-in as being a tourist attraction, but it really is. There are people who come from Franklin, Woodford, Boyle and other counties—just to be at a real drive-in theatre. Drive-ins are an endangered species, so Twin Hills has the possibility of being a huge tourist draw for our community.

As 2007 becomes our new year, let’s remember all the wonderful entertainment our community has to offer. I know I have forgotten someone and it is not my intention to slight any business or organization, I just want to draw attention to all the wonderful opportunities available in Mercer County. The future also will give us the new Agricultural Museum, which I am excited about because it will be within walking distance of my home. So make a resolution this year to visit some or all of the attractions within our community and spread the excitement to all your friends and family. After all, in order for our area to grow, word of mouth is a powerful tool.

© Bobbi Rightmyer, January 2007