Thursday, July 15, 2010

RENFRO VALLEY/BEREA, KENTUCKY

On our way north to Michigan, we thought Renfro Valley, KY, would be a convenient base for a couple of days.  The RV Campground is very convenient to the interstate and from all we read it was quite the "happening" place.  Although the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center is known as "Kentucky's Country Music Capital", it doesn't happen from Sunday to Tuesday.   Guess what days we're staying there?!  We noticed the area was not very crowded and the story we got was that the original owners passed away within a year of each other, and it took a while for their only daughter to decide whether to continue the business her parents started.  As a result of a slow economy, the music entertainment business has suffered as well.  Although there are about 114 total RV sites, we saw less than 20 RV's since we arrived.  It appealed to us because they advertised live Country Music shows, unique shopping villages, 2 restaurants, festivals and special events.  They still advertise that Loretta Lynn, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jamey Johnson, Charley Pride, Ronnie McDowell and more are coming, just not when we're there.   We planned on going to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, located next to our campground, but guess what.....they are also closed Sunday through Tuesday.  


Sunday was the final day of the 29th Berea Craft Festival, about 20 miles north of Renfro Valley, a huge annual festival  held at their historic Indian Fort Theater.  The Festival featured over 115 top artists from 20 states, strolling musicians and folk dancers.  We were vaguely familiar with Berea College, founded in 1855, as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South.  Berea is known as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky largely because of the presence of Berea College studio artists.  In just a short time it became obvious to us that the town of Berea is a thriving community of artists, students, and progressively-minded individuals committed to community, creativity, social justice and environmental responsibility.  We enjoyed the Craft Festival very much and the weather was perfect.


After we left the Craft Festival we went to the Kentucky Artisan Center, a 25,000 square foot Kentucky limestone facility just off I-75, north of Berea.  We were star-struck at this facility that featured hand-blown glass vases, pewter ornaments, hand-thrown pottery bowls and mugs, colorful quilts, hand-woven baskets, whimsical garden creatures and all kinds of jewelry, as well as books, music, and specialty foods .... all made in Kentucky.

We'll return to Berea in a few days to visit the historic Boone Tavern Hotel, the first Green-Certified hotel in Kentucky!  
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