• 73°

Expanding Ironton’s day-trip market

Mark Twain, American humorist, writer and lecturer says “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

OK, what is the message(s) that he’s trying to convey?

I have a theory and I’d like to hear yours!

You can learn more about Mr. Twain at the Kentucky Repertory Theatre (KRT) as Robert Brock will take on the role of the great humorist and satirist as he weaves a spell-binding series of tales that run the gamut from laugh-out-loud funny to deeply moving.

Brock says, “Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, was a powerful observer of human nature. Through his characters and stories, he singe-handedly put American literature on the map. He lived many lifetimes in one, traveled much and entertained multitudes with his particular sense of humor. But that humor was borne on the back of great sorrow and many personal tragedies. I hope this evening with Mark Twain will bring him to life in all his depth and variety of expression.”

The Twain Presentation will run in the KRT Aug. 19, 20 and 21.

For ticket reservations, show times, and additional information contact the box office at 800-342-2177 or visit www.kentuckyrep.org.

The Kentucky Repertory Theatre (KRT) is located in Horse Cave Ky. a fourth class city (I got this right from their web site) by legislative approval and is the largest city located in Hart County in south central Kentucky. It may be 4th class in the Ky. legislature but it is 1st class in my book.

I attended a one man Abe Lincoln show at the KRT and found it to be a 1st class operation. They produce out some awesome performances that help drive people (tourists) into Horse Cave and the surrounding region.

The KRT is definitely a tourism magnet as it attracts tourists much like a magnet attracts metal objects.

We spent an afternoon in Horse Cave lunching in a quaint mom and pop restaurant right across the street from the theater.

There were a couple of hours before the evening show so most of my group spent this time browsing the town’s antique and curio shops.

It’s just an estimate but my group probably spent about $15,000 on food, admission fees and shopping. The cluster of antique/thrift shops in the downtown were open and willingly accepted cash, checks and credit cards. Judging by the full bins underneath the motor coach and the bags carried onboard by delighted shoppers. I’d say that plenty of bargains were found.

The group had spent the morning in nearby Hodgenville Ky. exploring the early history of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln.

Sites here included the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek, and the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic site. Another stop was at the Lincoln Museum a venue that occupies two historic buildings in downtown Hodgenville.

The lower level of the handicapped-accessible facility depicts 12 authenticated scenes of importance in Lincoln’s life and our nation’s history with life-sized wax figures, and the second story houses exhibits, Civil War and Lincoln memorabilia along with the Lincoln Days Art Collection. (http://hodgenvillekentucky.org)

One of the things that tourists do best is to spend money. Add spending that money locally in your community is even better.

Collectively we need to work on improving our region as an inbound tourism stop.

We have a decent inventory of interesting venues but we need to add something along the lines of the Kentucky Repertory Theatre.

One step in that direction has already been started with the rehabilitation of a downtown Ironton theater.

Ironton in Bloom has spruced up Ironton’s downtown and recently conducted a back yard gardens tour. The Lawrence County Historical Society has sponsored some “living history” events and cemetery walks.

We need to package these events and work on marketing them to the day trip market.

Imagine conducting the Over the Back Fence garden tour along with An Afternoon of Living history.

The result is the creation of a tourism product that will act as a tourist magnet.

The next phase calls for some creative thinking and the development of future programming. Shall we form a committee?

Speaking of the Ironton in Bloom folks, I like to address some of the rumors concerning the project.

This endeavor is privately funded with donations and fund raising activates and no public funds or labor is used.

They contract with an outside vendor for the placement and maintenance of the planters and pots.

The people you see watering and maintaining the displays are not city or the county workers. Residents should take pride in this activity and support them instead of criticizing the effort.

As always I look forward to your questions and comments.

You can contact me at 740.550.9540 or thetravelprofessor@gmail.com.