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KSR County Spotlight: Let’s Make A Stop In Hopkins


Hey there.  How you feeling after all that bourbon in Bardstown?  Sunglasses and Advil.  Well it’s time for another stop.  Let’s jump on the Western Kentucky Parkway and head over to our next stop on the Tour de Kentucky … Hopkins County!


Photo from Wiki

Formed in 1807, Hopkins County was named after Revolutionary War and War of 1812 General Samuel Hopkins.  As part of the Western Coal fields, Hopkins County ranks second in the state in coal extracted and coal reserves remaining.  Agriculture takes hold toward the northern part of the county, with corn, soybeans and tobacco as the major byproducts.  The abundance of small lakes and ponds around the county give residents and visitors the opportunity to spend a day on the water, or sitting next to it.


Grapevine Lake, courtesy of

Grapevine Lake

The largest city in Hopkins County is Madisonville.  With just around 20,000 residents, Madisonville’s signature motto is The Best Town On Earth.  You can find TBTOE on billboards, t-shirts, license plates, koozies … everywhere.  What makes Madisonville the best you ask?  Well, a number of things.  First and most importantly, they have the best Mexican restaurant in the world.  No exaggeration.  Go ahead and argue about it in the comments (Care Much), but El Bracero is second to none.  Their queso is worth the drive across the state.  Second reason Madisonville is TBTOE has to be Ferrell’s Diner.  With that old school diner feel, friendly service and a burger so good your toes curl, this is one place you have to hit, but maybe not the same day as El Bracero.  That can’t be healthy.


I kiss some chili cheese fries too.  Somethin.

I kiss some chili cheese fries too. Somethin.

One thing that makes these small Kentucky towns so great is the sense of community, and no where exemplifies this more than Madisonville.  This is one of those towns were everyone knows everyone.  Seriously.  And how can you not with this list of events?   There are multiple events every month where you can head downtown and hang out with friends and family.  There are car shows every month, racing down at the Western Kentucky Speedway, golf tournaments, fairs … you name it.  There’s even a professional Disc Golf tournament each June at the immaculate Madisonville City Park.  And heck, I think Conch Republic is playing on Friday before the fireworks show.  There really is an endless list of events that give Madisonville that hometown feel.  Get out and enjoy TBTOE!!


It's like a scene from Big Fish.

It’s like a scene from Big Fish.

Of course we can’t visit Madisonville without talking about our favorite celebrity residentTravis Ford.  Born in Madisonville, Travis went on to become the point guard at UK that most people my age wanted to be like growing up.  Ford went on to set single game records for assists (15) as well as hitting 101 three pointers in a single season.  Most impressive, especially now-a-days was his 50 consecutive free throws made.  Other basketball legends include 1951 National Champion and NBA Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey and Big Blue favorite, Jon Hood.  I think that’s pretty much it.  Oh yeah, can’t forget …. Governor Steve Beshear!  Oh,and that Drew Franklin guy.


Started from English 101, now we here.

Started from TBTOE, now we here.

So there we have it, another stop in the books, another great town visited.  Everyone safely enjoy your town’s 4th of July celebration and when we get back, we’ll be clear across the state, visiting our friends in Pike County!


Remember you can shoot any questions, comments, concerns my way at [email protected]

Article written by Corey James

39 Comments for KSR County Spotlight: Let’s Make A Stop In Hopkins

  1. Moonshine Nate
    3:32 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Black wells, and the Number 9 steak house are the best places to eat. I’ve had the mexican resturant, and it’s ok but not the best. Maxwells has a cheeseburger that is as big as your head! The Number 9 steak house by the railroad tracks takes the cake.

  2. wkylawcat
    3:33 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    You also forgot former Kentucky President Lee Todd from Earlington. I grew up there. Moved away for college in the mid-90s. Stop by only for holidays. Not the best town on earth, or state, or even the county come to think of it.

  3. Bullitt County UK fan
    3:37 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Please do bullitt county. Awesome place. Look it up on wikipedia. We are south of Jefferson County

  4. L1C6
    3:42 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    I’m from Madisonville, and now I want some Taco John’s potato oleys!

  5. Steve Fitts
    3:55 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Kentucky is a weird state. In any other state of the union, Madisonville would be in Madison County and Hopkinsville would be in Hopkins County. But not in Kentucky! Kentucky has to make things confusing!

    • tuxedo park
      4:22 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      it’s like that everywhere dude.

    • CPACAT
      4:43 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      Just something to think about

      Carter Grayson
      Grayson Leitchfield

      Bath Owensville
      Owen Owenton

      Jessamine Nicholasville
      Nicholas Carlisle
      Carlisle Bardwell

      Anderson Lawrenceburg
      Lawrence Louisa

      Owsley Booneville
      Boone Burlington

      Breathitt Jackson
      Jackson McKee

      Breckinridge Hardinsburg
      Hardin Elizabethtown

      Butler Morgantown
      Union Morganfield
      Morgan West Liberty

      Spencer Taylorsville
      Taylor Campbellsville
      Campbell Newport/Alexandria

      Allen Scottsville
      Scott Georgetown

      Christian Hopkinsville
      Hopkins Madisonville
      Madison Richmond

      Crittenden Marion
      Marion Lebanon

      Fulton Hickman
      Hickman Clinton
      Clinton Albany

      Logan Russellville
      Russell Jamestown

      McCreary Whitley City
      Whitley Williamsburg

      Simpson Franklin
      Franklin Frankfort

    • Steve
      5:43 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      CPACAT, quite a bit of that can be explained by the fact that KY started out with just a small handful of counties, which then separated repeatedly into the 120 we now have. Some of those are pretty far apart though, so not sure that explains all of it.

  6. Johnny
    3:56 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    El Bracero is not even close to the best mexican restaurant….Dos Copas blows it out of the water. El Bracero wouldn’t even be in the top 10 restaurants to eat at in Madisonville

  7. Johnny
    3:56 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Oh….and Farrel’s may be the grossest place on earth!

    • L1C6
      4:07 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      You, sir, are insane. Farrel’s is awesome. And I agree that El Bra isn’t the best Mexican restaurant in the world, but it beats Copas.

    • Johnny
      4:15 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      1. Crowded House
      2. DiFabio’s
      3. Blackwell’s
      4. Dos Copas
      5. Oasis
      6. El braceros

      My rankings

    • jq
      4:36 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      IT IS FERREL’S NOT FARREL’S, NUMNUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • DH
      4:42 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      That cracked me up, jq. Then I cracked up again when I realized it spelled Ferrell’s, with TWO L’s. It’s on the picture, for crying out loud, and NONE of you got it right. Also, it’s “numbnuts”

    • bluristhurr
      5:48 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      DH roasted y’all….Ferrell’s is only good at 2 am drunk but I also was always pleased with El Bros compared to 9 out of 10 mexican restaurants eat at. Most are junk here in bg but gosh darn it we got a lot

  8. therealbigjon
    4:06 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    El Bracero’s is pretty good but it doesn’t hold a candle to Real Hacienda in Owensboro. I grew up about 15 minutes from Madisonville and when I was a kid it wasn’t a great place to go. Didn’t somebody get murdered at the park? But its gotten pretty nice in the last few years. I still wouldn’t live there but thats mostly because the crazy side of my family lives there. And those hills on the golf course at the park, I don’t want any part of that ever again.

    • BigBlueMadisonville
      4:11 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    • therealbigjon
      5:28 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      I’m sure it is now but for some reason when I was a kid it seemed that people were just getting murdered there on the reg. And I remember seeing a group of people with white makeup on their face riding around in a hearse at some point in my childhood. Also the mall is super dead now. I remember when that was the place to be back in the day.

  9. a21CATSfan
    4:13 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    You probably should’ve done Christian Co./Hoptown first before mentioning El Bracero and Ferrell’s since they were both there first.

    • Lucas
      6:39 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      You stole the words right out of my mouth.

    • Kody
      7:20 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      Yeup can’t mention El Bracero and Ferrell’s when referring to another city other than Hoptown.

  10. Trey
    4:51 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Really not much to do in Mad-Ville. The mall looks like a ghost town and from everybody I’ve talked to, they don’t like Travis Ford very much.

    • bart edwards
      6:47 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      You should get out more. Travis is a hero there (my grandma moved there a few years ago). And the place is beautiful. Wish I could live there. There is ALWAYS something going on, festivals and whatnot, and the sense of community is unmatched by anything I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. One certainly does’t get that in larger towns.
      The true here is Frank Ramsey, though, and with good reason.

  11. BobTinKY
    5:34 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    May be totally crazy, but isn’t Mike Phillips from Madisonville, too.? I know he lived there as of a few years ago…

  12. Deep3
    6:05 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Tommy Dz dinner in the mall is the best place to eat in Madisonville.

  13. Matt
    6:29 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Ferrell’s and El Bracero are both local Hopkinsville restaurants that later opened chains in Madisonville. Both owners still live and work in Hopkinsville and run the main restaurants there. It is weird that Madisonville has its own great local restaurants but you focus on the ones in Hoptown. With that way of thinking, they are also home to McDonalds, Kroger, and BB&T.

    • therealbigjon
      6:59 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      Used to be a Ferrell’s in Henderson too.

  14. Shawn
    6:42 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    So Madisonville Is great because of El Braceros and Ferrells? I guess Hoptown Is better because both of those places have their flagship and original restraunts In Hopkinsville. The first “El Bracero” was actually started by the current owners father, and It Is still called Cancun to this day. Cancun led to El Braceros right down the blv. Its ok Madville, yall keep coat tailing. Thats why Ravi Moss would kill Jon Hood In one on one.

    • bart edwards
      6:50 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

      Let me know how Ravi makes out in that game against NBA Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey — or even Travis Ford.
      Ravi Moss, indeed. SMH

  15. sobriquet
    7:04 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    Alfred “Sonny” Collins, arguably the greatest running back in Kentucky’s history, hailed from Madisonville. He graduated from MNHHS in 1972 and headed to UK on a full scholarship.

    • Right In
      7:34 am July 3, 2014 Permalink

      I was wondering if anyone was gonna give Sonny some love. When I was a kid, he WAS Kentucky football . . . The Afro wig, the fur coat . . . it was like Shaft and Huggy Bear had a love child, and he could fly!

  16. Goldwing48
    8:57 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    You might want to think about the Big Biting Pig movie production company that films there often. They have won the Kentucky Film Makers Award three times (at least). I think it would be fun to enter one of their ‘local’ casting calls and try out for a part. I went to the World Premiere of “The Caretaker’ last Saturday night and had a blast. All of the actors were there signing autographs and mingling with the crowd. We topped the night off with a late night round of cheeseburgers, chili and pie at Ferrells. What a great night…

  17. Tom Blevins
    9:19 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    I lived in Nebo from 84 to 88, and was in Madisonville quite often. (It’s only about 10 miles from Nebo.) I have a lot of good memories from that town. There was a place which I believe was called the Waffle Shop, which had really good coffee. It’s no longer there, but I had a lot of good bull sessions with friends there. The dinning room at the Big Springs Inn had really good pie.

  18. TBTOE
    10:54 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink


  19. catdaddyd
    11:14 pm July 2, 2014 Permalink

    The “Big Fish” reference was cool.

    • Corey
      8:29 am July 3, 2014 Permalink

      Was hoping someone would get that!!! Awesome movie.

  20. Madeline Stocke
    12:20 am July 3, 2014 Permalink

    Love you Corey James! This article nails it : )

  21. Travis is a punk.
    4:37 pm July 3, 2014 Permalink

    I would have to say that Frank Ramsey should be everyone’s favorite celebrity. Travis transferred from Mizzou to Kentucky first off and has no championships to his name. Frank is an NCAA champion and NBA HOFER. Travis can’t touch that. I played some hoops against Travis at the YMCA there in Madisonville and he was a major prick to say the least.