Welcome back everyone! I feel like this is the third or fourth county I’ve called my ‘home away from home’ but having lived here for the last 10 years, I guess it’s just home. Take a seat and let me give you the tour of the green pastures and white picket fences that make up Fayette County!
Located in central Kentucky, Fayette County was founded in 1780. Fayette was one of the original three counties created from the larger Kentucky County, Virginia. Along with Jefferson County and Lincoln County, Fayette separated from Virginia in 1792 to make up the state of Kentucky. At that point it contained land from 37 present day counties and parts of 7 more. Fayette was named after Marquis de Lafayette, a French major-general of the Continental Army under George Washington. Working as a go between with France and the Colonists, Lafayette was instrumental in France providing their support against the British, ultimately helping the colonists win the Revolutionary War. For his accomplishments in serving both France and the United States, he was officially known as “The Hero of the Two Worlds.” Lafayette died in 1834 and is buried in Paris, under soil brought in from Bunker Hill.
As most of us know, Lexington is Fayette County’s seat and largest city. Of the approximately 310,000 citizens in the Lexington area, nearly 40% have bachelor’s degrees making Lexington one of the Top 10 Smartest American Cities according to a US News report. Along with that distinction, Lexington is known as “The Horse Capital of the World” as it is surrounded by over 400 horse farms. The 1,200 acre Kentucky Horse Park was the first non-European city to hold the World Equestrian Games in 2010 and brought in over a half a million visitors. With some of the best equine care facilities in the world located in Lexington, legendary horses like Cigar and Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin are just a few of the retired horses that call Lexington home. As these legendary horses are sent here to stud after racing, many of the most famous horses in racing have been born in the farms around Lexington. The most famous of these horses, you may have heard of him, was Man O’ War. During his career, Man O’ War won 20 of 21 races including on his way to the elusive Triple Crown. He’s been ranked the #1 greatest horse in racing by multiple media outlets including Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press.
Of course you can’t talk horses in Lexington without mentioning what is
arguably the most beautiful horse track in the world, Keeneland. Each April and October, the greatest horses from around the world make their way to Lexington to run on this gorgeous oval track. Founded in 1935 on 147 beautiful acres, Keeneland runs numerous Stakes races each April as preparation for the Derby in May. Race fans can watch their horses as they parade around the paddock before entering the tunnel under the stands onto the track. Fans can either make their way out to the stands or hang by the betting booths as they sip on their bourbon and watch the horses circle the track. Keeneland’s beauty has much to do with their stake in tradition as not a lot has changed since their opening in 1935. For this reason, movies like Seabiscuit and Secretariat have been shot here. Come on out this fall (October 3-15) and definitely don’t miss Keeneland’s first Breeder’s Cup in 2015!
So Lexington also has this university you all may have heard of, University of Kentucky? Yeah? That’s good. As you all know, Lexington is home to UK and all of her 29k+ students. UK is Lexington’s largest employer. having about 14,000 employees as of 2012, when the hospital was only 7,000 feet tall. Housing 16 colleges, a grad school, 4 professional programs, 99 masters and 66 doctoral programs, UK is the state’s highest ranked research university. (Sorry Chester) Of course you all only come to this site for one thing, county posts. Oh, and occasionally UK sports stuff. I’m not going to overload you with the history of UK sports as you’re a good fan and already know everything there is. So let’s run through this real quick … Winningest men’s basketball program of all time. 8 National Championships. First to 2000 wins. Winningest Cheerleading squad of all time with 20 National Championships. Multiple National Championships in cross country, gymnastics, and even a co-national champion football team in 1950! So yeah, we do alright for ourselves …
Of course we can’t mention Lexington universities without giving a shout out to Transy. Founded in 1780, Transylvania University is the oldest in Kentucky and among the oldest in the country. Transy has educated the likes of 2 US vice presidents, 2 US Supreme Court justices, 50 US senators, 101 US representatives and 36 US governors. However, some of their more important alumni include Matt Jones, Tomlin, Turkey Hunter, Hubby, Mosley and miss Ally Tucker.
Finally, I can’t bring you to my city without letting you know of the great spots to eat and grab a drink. Lexington has tons of amazing food options depending on what you’re hungry for. Looking for a nice steak and some sushi? That’s a BHG specialty. Check out any of the Malone’s spots for a great filet (go oscar style) and some fantastic sushi. If you’re looking for more of a home cooking feel, you can’t go wrong with Ramsey’s. Their chicken and dumplings changes lives. Other great options include Dudley’s and Tulips if you’re looking high end, Shamrocks and Winchell’s if you’re looking for more of a local feel, or anything on Jefferson Street . My personal favorite is a little restaurant/bar over on Leestown Rd called Thoroughbreds. Pop in there, ask Andy for a cold beer and have Hattie cook you up some of her famous meatloaf. And make sure you get the baked beans. Trust me. As for a grabbing a drink, you’re in luck! Lexington is experiencing a craft beer explosion in town, and we’re all benefiting. West Sixth Brewery on Sixth and Jefferson offers numerous IPA as well as lighter options. The other popular craft brewery in Lexington, Country Boy Brewery, offers some great options as well. I usually have to decide between their Cougar Bait American Blonde or their Shotgun Wedding Dark Brown Ale. If you’re more of a wine-o, check out Enoteca which literally means ‘wine library’ in Italian. And for those of you looking to get a little wilder, please see my Tin Roof picture above.
So there we are. Next time you come to Lexington for a football tailgate, or a day at the races, you’re fully prepared to see everything great Fayette County has to offer. After all this excitement, we’re going to need a quiet place to relax, maybe do some hiking. Carter County, here we come!
Remember, if you want your county’s favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or cool town event featured, hit me up at [email protected] and we’ll get it on here!