If it's getting harder to get a seat at the restaurant of your favorite state park, blame Kristen Branscum.
Branscum, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism, recently launched a new culinary trail linking Kentucky State Parks, called "Better in the Bluegrass."
To highlight what is special about different regions of the state, a group of chefs, farmers, food producers, historians and tourism professionals created nine signature meals that represent the tastes and ingredients of each region.
"The Better in the Bluegrass culinary tourism initiative is a fun and interactive way to highlight the state's signature dishes and encourage locals and visitors alike to explore every corner of our great state," Branscum said.
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For the Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, the signature meal consists of an appetizer of beer cheese, followed by an entree of Kentucky beef with sides of grits, spoonbread, and limestone Bibb salad with sorghum vinaigrette. For dessert, there's a bourbon/chocolate dessert. And to drink? Ale-8-One or Ale-8-One and bourbon.
Each of the signature meals will be available at state parks from May 14 through Oct. 31. And you can get a culinary passport stamped at the parks; collect all nine for a gift from the tourism department.
Local ingredients will be used for portions of each regional meal, according to the Kentucky Department of Tourism.
The other parks include Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park in Dawson Springs, Rough River Dam State Resort Park in Falls of Rough, Barren River Lake State Resort Park in Lucas, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville, Blue Licks Battlefield State Park in Carlisle, Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in Jamestown and Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park in Gilbertsville.