Words and Pictures by Col. Rae Hodge
The 111th Kentucky State Fair sprawls out before ticket-holders across the 416 acres in Louisville. Entrants move in swarms across the vast lots, parting the wafts of manure scent carried on the breeze. They tunnel through the Exposition Center wings at a leisurely, summertime pace. A multicolored trail of balloons bobs along with the foot traffic at waist height, each attached to the wrist of some sticky-faced child.
These sights are more than amusement. In the Commonwealth, they're a sacred tradition.
Since 1902, Kentuckians have responded to the magnetic call of the State Fair, and trekked across hill and valley with their brats and grandfolk in tow to join the throng in cow gazing, crop speculating, and whiskey sipping.
"Aerial view of the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition Center, undated. From the Al Blunk Collection. 996PC13." Source: The Filson Historical Society
And it's no wonder. Just like every other year, the 2015 Kentucky State Fair offers moments inaccessible to us in everyday life. The whole ordeal seems to rise like a glittering hallucination out of the Ohio River. It presents its delights to us in congress for only a short time, momentarily greater than the sum of its parts, before disassembling itself, its pieces bound for other states on the backs of big rigs.
At least that's what I thought. This year was the first that I'd been to the State Fair. And I had no idea how quickly I’d lose my grasp on reality.
Turns out it's greasy. It's filthy. It is claustrophobically-packed endurance contest in the midst of an unbearable assault on the senses. In other words, it's basically perfect.
Ladies and gentlemen, the latest trend in Kentucky related stuffed toys is here! We proudly present to you- The Kentucky Creatures! Deep down in the endless maze of Mammoth Cave there exists a creature so unique it can only come from Kentucky. Hidden within the Commonwealth for so long, these Creatures not only evolved into the shape of Kentucky, but also developed an insatiable thirst for Kentucky spirits and culture.
Each Kentucky Creature is handmade out of recycled sweaters by artist Heidi Wineland in Grayson, KY. Although no two Creatures are alike, each and every one is guaranteed to be soft and cuddly. Only 25 Kentucky Creatures will be available this Friday August 28th at 10am on our website.
Get to know your Kentucky Creature.
Pet them daily.
Listen to their hopes and dreams.
Sing them to sleep with "My Old Kentucky Home."
Do not feed them after midnight.
Do not burden them with shirts with sleeves.
Product details: You can't pick your Kentucky Creature, because your Kentucky Creature chooses you. Made out of recycled sweaters, generally measuring 4 x 10 x 2" . Made in Grayson, Kentucky by Heidi Wineland. Hangtags by Rachael Sinclair.
Words by Andrew Allingham, Photos by Savanna Barnett
Domestic bliss...Hazard Strong Style!
Story, photos and video by Coleman Larkin
You don’t often hear people from other parts of the state distinguish between Eastern Kentucky and Southeastern Kentucky, but it’s true, they’re different. Not a lot. Just enough to notice if you’re the kind of person that notices things.
It really boils down to a feeling.
In Eastern Kentucky---in Pike and Floyd and Johnson and etc. Counties--you feel a lateral connection. You love the mountains, but you also love knowing that you can sneak out of them at any moment into the bluegrass or toward the sea. The old Appalachian aesthetic isn’t gone here, but it’s losing to bad billboards and fast food fluorescence. The people wear clothes from shopping malls in other cities.
In Southeastern Kentucky--in Perry and Harlan and Letcher and etc. Counties--it feels almost like you’re in a terrarium, like one day you’ll look up and a big eyeball will be staring down at you where the sun used to be. There’s all these trains and train tracks and it’s hard to think of them going anywhere except in circles. The WPA look is still on top, the mossy cold stone and gold-leaf lettering. You don’t feel that breezy lateral connection either. You feel pressure. You feel the trees breathing on your neck. You know that beyond the mountains there are more mountains, and this either breaks you or hones you into an enlightened warrior.
Adam Brewer is a warrior. He is walking on the shoulder of Route 15 in Hazard, looking normal enough. Maybe he is going to his normal job in the stockroom at J.C. Penney in the Black Gold Plaza. Maybe he is going to buy some normal cat food for his normal cats. But put your ear up to the...
Attention music lovers! On August 29th, we're gonna be gettin' down at the MoonTower Music Festival right here in Lexington, KY. Some kick-ass artists are going to be performing that you aren't going to wanna miss. This is a one-day-only event, so clear your Saturday schedule and get ready to jam! We will be there, too, serving up our kick-ass Kentucky, Y'ALL and bourbon gear to make sure you are festival ready. Also keep your eyes peeled for an Instagram giveaway: 2 tickets to MoonTower and all the festival gear you and a friend need to Y'ALL out this weekend! So don't forget to drop in and see us on Saturday, even if just to say "sup, y'all?"
Get your MoonTower Music Festival tickets here!
Story by Jonathan Meador
There once was a man who was 7’ 8” and, although historical records cannot confirm if he killed “for fun,” he could have easily accomplished the task if you got on his bad side. And that bad side, like all sides of Kentucky’s own literal giant, was pretty damn big.
Imagine: It is sometime in the 1840s, say, 7 o’clock, and you’ve found yourself wasting away time, cash and brain cells inside a dimly lit bar in the shipping town of Portland — a scant few miles northwest from the then-bustling river hub of Louisville — and after a heated game of cards with one of the locals, you foolishly brandish a pistol to aid your demands of satisfaction. Unfortunately, this time, you’ve drawn your revolver on no less than one of God’s own mutants: An imposing physical monstrosity who produces in kind an eight foot long rifle (“Little” was the loving handle he gave her) and a sword almost as tall as Tom Cruise on platform shoes.
You slunk out of the bar, shaken to your core, and drunkenly shamble back to your boat in order to get that earlier-than-expected start on your river travels.
Thing is, that man you’ve provoked, whose honor you besmirched? He’s the owner of that bar, and he didn’t even have to get up from his own poker table in order to give you an idea that letting the shaved Wookie win was the best course of action. He never intended to shoot, because he’s never really had to.
This veritable southern-fried force of nature’s name? “Big” Jim Porter.
In his admittedly short time...
Meet Our New Mascot
The cocaine-eating bear from The Bluegrass Conspiracy is ready to get wild at The Fun Mall
Story by Coleman Larkin
You probably already know the story, the one about drug-smuggling Kentucky blue blood Andrew Thornton II that’s been turned into books like The Bluegrass Conspiracy and TV shows and everything else, but if you don’t here’s the gist of it...
Andrew was one of those polo club, Sayre School, stud farm kids back in the 60s. He was probably always up to no good and ended up in a military academy. Then the army. After he’d had enough of that he became, of all things, a Lexington narcotics cop. How weird is that? A polo-playing drug cop.
A few years later, in 1977, he was a practicing Lexington lawyer.
Presumably, Thornton used his stint on the right side of the law to build a network of shady connections across the globe.
In 1981, he was accused of stealing weapons from a California naval base and conspiring to smuggle half a ton of pot into the U.S.
He plead not guilty and was arrested as a fugitive in North Carolina, wearing a bulletproof vest and packing a pistol.
He somehow managed to get these felony charges dropped and got off with a small fine, six months in prison and a suspended law license.
As soon as he was released, Thornton was back at it.
In 1985, on a coke-smuggling run from Colombia, after dropping packages off in northern Georgia, Thornton jumped from his plane, got...
When: Saturday August 22nd 12pm-11pm and Sunday August 23rd 12pm-7pm
Where: Masterson Station Park Fairgrounds
Photos by Savanna Barnett
As y'all may have noticed, the hemp industry is growing throughout the U.S. and is now even hitting home right here in the bluegrass state. Ya know, Kentucky was once one of the leading hemp producing state in the country before the banning of the crop, and one of the coolest outcomes so far are these kick-ass hemp Y'ALL shirts. Spread the good word with these American made hemp tees, available in navy and green! Along with these awesome hemp threads, we will also be launching our new 'bluegrass' tank tops and ladies cut tees (designed by Liz Swanson) so y'all can keep spreadin' around that home state pride. All these wares will be available on our website this Friday, August 21st!
Kentucky Kicks Ass and so does a big ol' Kentucky for Kentucky $10 print sale! This Friday August 14th (One Day Only) at 10am all of our art prints will be on sale for only $10. Hell yeah. Shop online or come see us at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall located at 720 Bryan Avenue Lex Ky 40505 between 10am and 5:30pm.
photo by Savanna Barnett and Logan Miller