Several years ago, before I became editor of the Herald-Leader, I attended a journalism conference where representatives of newspapers from all over the country were asked to identify what made the area they cover unique.
Many of the other journalists in the room struggled to come up with a list of unique features for their towns. When they did, many threw out items that ran to the general — education or politics, for example.
At that moment, I realized how truly special is the place I get to call home.
My list came easily:
The Appalachian mountains.
No other news person at the meeting offered any of the items on my list.
In Kentucky, "unique" is easy to find.
In fact, "unique" seems to be just around the bend up ahead along every rural road or mountain pass you travel down in this state.
A field of emerald green grass (especially with the mild weather during the summer 2013) surrounded by plank fences and dotted with muscular Thoroughbreds.
The stunning limestone cliffs of the Kentucky River Palisades.
A picturesque, century-old bourbon distillery whose product has found a renewed fire on the national and international market of late.
A tree-topped mountain in Eastern Kentucky, whose hollers and towns have given rise to unique social and cultural traditions that further define the state.
All of these things — and many more — make Kentucky a fascinating place for any journalist to cover. They also make it a special place to live or to visit.
That unique sense of place is certainly why I've made Kentucky my home for the last 18 years, chosen to raise a family here, and found it so rewarding to work in journalism here — Kentucky is full of important stories that need to be told, but also full of fun, interesting and unexpected stories that are just begging to be told.
Day in, day out, online and in print, the Herald-Leader covers the many unique stories Kentucky has to offer.
This edition of "Uniquely Kentucky" pulls many of those great story lines into one keepsake publication, from Kentucky crafts to Kentucky food, Kentucky politics to Kentucky arts and culture.
And, of course, there's the aforementioned horses, bourbon and basketball.
Altogether, it's a uniquely Kentucky story — and one we enjoy telling.