Kentucky is celebrating its 225th birthday, and you’re invited to the party.
“You don’t turn 225 every day, so we are going to celebrate all year long,” state Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum said.
State government has its own schedule of events and several communities, including groups in Lexington, also have plans to party. The Kentucky Educational Television network has scheduled an eight-day marathon of programming June 1-9 to commemorate the history, people and culture of the state. A listing can be found at KET.org/225ky.
Several celebrations are scheduled for June 1, the birthdate of the commonwealth that separated from Virginia in 1792.
The legislature approved a 225 Commission to plan the events but provided no funding for them, Branscum said. All state activities will be conducted with existing funds, and several communities, such as Lexington and Danville, are paying for their own, she said.
Two key public gatherings on June 1 are free.
The events from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Constitution Square Historic Site in downtown Danville include a re-enactment by Friends of Fort Harrod and Salt River Longrifles; music by Doc Shibas Rural String Band, Lydia Graham and Shaker music concerts; original art; a historic downtown walking tour; and the kickoff of the Great American Brass Festival. There will be a toast-to-Kentucky celebration from 11 a.m. to noon, with guests whose names are not being disclosed.
Gov. Matt Bevin’s press secretary, Woody Maglinger, said Bevin’s scheduling office has not yet finalized his calendar for June but he “definitely plans to participate in some 225th birthday activities this summer.”
Constitution Square Historic Site is a three-acre park and open-air museum run by the Boyle County government. It features replicas of three buildings that stood on the original city square, including the courthouse that housed 10 state constitutional conventions between 1785 and 1792; these conventions ultimately led to Kentucky’s departure from Virginia.
On June 1 at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort, a new exhibit is to open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon. The building is now bedecked with large banners with the number “225.”
The exhibit, “People of Kentucky,” throws the spotlight on some of Kentucky’s well-known — and not-so-well-known — people who have helped shape and define Kentucky. Admission to the building and exhibit is free on June 1, 2 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit will stay at the center through Oct. 14.
On the evening of June 8, Ed Ayers, president of the Organization of American Historians, is to speak at 6:45 p.m. on the role of digital history in academic and public life. A reception begins at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for Kentucky Historical Society members and $15 for others.
On June 24, Josh Taylor from PBS’s “Genealogy Roadshow” is to be at the history center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, for a “Kentucky Ancestors Town Hall.” Prepaid reservations are $4 for members and $10 for others. Cost at the door is $6 for members and $15 for others.
Through Sept. 23, about 50 Kentucky artists will present their works on the state’s history at the Kentucky Artisan Center just off I-75 at exit 77 for Berea.
The Kentucky Department of Travel also has come up with 225 things to do in Kentucky this special year. The suggestions involve all 120 counties in the state and range from the Master Musicians Festival July 7 and 8 in Somerset to the Lake Cumberland 360 Motorcycle Bingo Tour June 10 at Jamestown.
For more information about Kentucky’s birthday events, go to KY225.com.
Lexington has scheduled three events from May 31 through June 2 to celebrate the state’s birthday with food, spirits and entertainment.
“There is something for people of every age and interest to enjoy and help celebrate Kentucky’s anniversary,” said Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLEX.
In addition, special beverages are being created to commemorate the occasion, Ramer said.
West Sixth Brewing has created Galaxy Shines Bright, which will be available at Thursday Night Live and at its taproom during June. Pivot Cidery has created a fire cider called Fincastle Forge, which will be available during June.
225th celebrations in Lexington
▪ May 31: 1792 Commonwealth Bash, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., The Livery, 238 East Main St..
It’s a fundraiser for the Lexington History Museum. Music by Ben Lacey & David Napier and catering by Donna Potter. Tickets are $65, $50 for Lexington Bourbon Society members. Go to Lexingtonbourbonsociety.com/1792.html
▪ June 1: Central Bank Thursday Night Live, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank Pavilion at Cheapside Park (251 W. Main St). Food, live music from Charlie Shuck & The Trendells and beverage vendors. Downtownlex.com/central-bank-thursday-night-live
▪ June 2: Garden & Gun magazine event, 225 Years of Kentucky: Dinner & A Show Celebrating the Bluegrass. 7 p.m. at Gainesway Farm, 3750 Paris Pike. Meal from chef Ouita Michel and entertainment with The Watson Twins, featuring performances by Ben Sollee and Freakwater. Tickets are $200. There is a 10-day cancellation policy, and all guests must be at least 21. GGfieldreport.com/ky225