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State fair will feature Lincoln exhibits

LOUISVILLE — Kentucky native son Abraham Lincoln will be honored during the 104th Kentucky State Fair with a display that recognizes his birthplace, rise to the presidency and accomplishments as chief executive.

An 8,000-square-foot display called Kentucky's Abraham Lincoln will be divided into areas which explore his life from his birth on Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin to his ascension to the White House.

It also traces his struggles in office as he sought to end slavery and bring a halt to the Civil War.

The fair opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 25.

A national commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth began Feb. 12 and related events are being held throughout Kentucky. The Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky State Fair sought an appropriate educational exhibit for this year's fair and chose Lincoln, said society spokeswoman Lisa Cleveland.

”It will be fun for students and educational,“ Cleveland said. She said teachers will devise lesson plans about Lincoln, based on what children learn about him at the fair.

Central City Elementary School teachers Dorothy Parker and Peggy Shoemaker plan to take 84 fifth-graders from the school 100 miles to the fair to see the Lincoln exhibits.

”I want to take pictures and perhaps do a play for the whole school,“ Parker said.

Lincoln was to have been portrayed at the exhibit by interpreter Jim Sayre, 72, of Lawrenceburg, but he recently broke his ankle and the exhibit organizers said last week they were seeking a substitute.

Lincoln exhibits at the fair include parts of a Kentucky Educational Television special on video in a theater setting.

There will also be a store to show what people could buy in the 1790s and cutouts of Abe and Mary Lincoln where children can insert their faces and have photos made.

Fairgoers will be introduced to Lincoln-related sites through the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail, said Kentucky Historical Society Executive Director Kent Whitworth. They include the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site that marks the location of his birth in a log cabin near Hodgenville, 45 miles south of Louisville.

National Park Ranger Rodney Blanton said rangers from the historic site will work in the Lincoln display at the state fair.

Visitors may pick up a trail ”passport“ to begin collecting stamps at Lincoln sites across the state and after collecting 10 or more, they become eligible to win monthly prizes such as T-shirts, caps and mugs.

Whitworth said the fair will feature demonstrations of how split-rail fences were made and the Historical Society's HistoryMobile — a converted tractor-trailer — will be at the fair with more Lincoln information.

Aside from the Lincoln focus at the fair, there are more traditional fair activities and exhibits, as well as more exotic acts.

A tiger will walk a tight rope in one of this year's specialty acts. Fair spokesman Edward Browne said there will also be a band roving through the crowds, playing water jugs, pots, pans and homemade instruments.