People around Kentucky and southern Indiana have a warm feeling about Hodgenville and LaRue County.
If you want proof, spend a four-hour shift at LaRue County’s booth in the Pride of Counties display at the Kentucky State Fair.
From 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 21, it was my privilege to stand between cutouts of Joel Ray Sprowls and Abraham Lincoln and distribute promotional material about LaRue County.
While a video touting life in LaRue County played on a small television, I began trying to engage the passersby in conversation. Eventually, I worked out a routine to stir up conversation and hopefully interest in visiting the area’s attractions.
It started simply enough: “Have you been to Hodgenville lately?”
Almost everyone that responded had a Hodgenville experience. Most frequently, of course, it had something to do with Mr. Lincoln.
They shared stories about childhood field trips to the memorial at the National Historic Park. A couple people described their “discovery” of the Boyhood Home at Knob Creek while taking U.S. 31E from Bardstown to Hodgenville. I met our neighbors who pass through regularly on their way to and from Green and Taylor counties. The booth also had visits from folks who had worked at, visited or otherwise admired Joel Ray’s Lincoln Jamboree.
One man shared an oft-repeated family story of his father’s motorcycle wreck on Hodgenville’s square in the days when the road through town was still gravel and dirt. Apparently coming down the hill a bit too fast, he wiped out on the bike and ended up landing in the Lincoln statue’s lap.
In the telling, I think that story grew a bit.
But folks who stopped during my duty time knew about Hodgenville, LaRue County and the connection to Lincoln’s heritage. They might not remember the exit number off Interstate 65 or know that Lincoln Days is the first weekend of October, but all seemed to appreciate who we are and their previous visits.
Through efforts like this booth at the State Fair, hopefully more of them will be back this way soon.
Ben Sheroan is general manager of The LaRue County Herald News.