I believe family heritage is important. It helps define who you are and where you come from. It gives you your identity. Three generations back my family were all farmers, earning their living from the rolling land in Kentucky. My extended family still lives in and around Lexington. My Dad grew up in Georgetown, and graduated from UK. He almost never misses a Wildcat football or basketball game.
On one of our trips in the Bonanza in 2008, we had a chance to visit the area while attending the American Bonanza Society Convention at KLEX, Bluegrass Field. We made the trip from Central Florida in about 3.5 hours non-stop, heading east of Atlanta, over the western North Carolina mountains and then past Knoxville, TN. On this trip, we followed a Delta regional jet on final to RW4 at LEX. On the arrival, in every direction, all one could see was verdant rolling hills, and large horse farms. Each farm has its own million-dollar barn, adorned with a cupola, of course.
We enjoyed taking the rental car on day-trips around the countryside and visiting family landmarks. We marveled at the horse farms and tobacco barns. Also, the stacked limestone fences that run along narrow, scenic, rolling two-lane roads for miles and miles.
Family roots and maintaining our connections to the past are very important to us. It was very cool to see the places where my Dad grew up. Like the stream he and his buddies went swimming in, and the drugstore where they all hung out after a Georgetown College ball game. We even stopped by the old family cemetery plot to pay our respects.
Other stops in the Lexington-Georgetown area included Old Friends Farm, a non-profit group that provides a decent environment for retired Thoroughbred race horses. One of Old Friends pensioners is Riva Way, a grandson of Secretariat. We are part of his adoption efforts.
Then there are tours of historic thoroughbred horse farms, like Calumet Farm or Three Chimneys Farm, home of Silver Charm and Seattle Slew.
If you can only visit one horse farm, it has to be Claiborne Farms, the winningest of all. Claiborne was established in 1910 in Paris, Kentucky. Claiborne Farms was the home of Mr. Prospector, Sir Galahad, and Bold Ruler. Triple Crown winner Secretariat retired to stud at Claiborne, and is buried on the farm. You get a real sense of history just strolling through the equine cemetery and looking at their gravesites. All of these farms have a rich tradition of breeding thoroughbred race horses, going back many generations.
A day trip to Keeneland during race season is filled with pageantry, great food and spirits. Having box-seats was awesome. Keeneland is not nearly as crowded as Churchill Downs, and a lot less touristy, but it still has all the requisite pageantry of the Sport of Kings.
Other must-dos are the Kentucky Horse Park, various wineries, and the nightlife downtown Lexington near the University of Kentucky campus. Especially if the ‘Cats are hosting an SEC opponent on the football field.