Kentucky offers a wealth of cultural experience to travelers
Frankfort, KY: The Southern Governors' Association (SGA) has a new plan to promote Tourism in the South, but it was really an old plan to Governor Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky, whose administration has been hard at work for months on initiatives similar to those outlined by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, the SGA's new chairman, in his Tuesday address that was the climax of the 70th annual meeting.
"We were very pleased to hear Governor Perdue's ideas to promote tourism in the fields of agriculture, history, and music," said Fletcher, "because the SGA's plans are in perfect harmony with what we're doing in Kentucky."
Kentucky is one of five SGA member states that currently rank in the nation's top 10 for travel volume. Instead of being content to maintain the status quo, however, the Fletcher administration's Department of Tourism, under Commissioner Randy Fiveash, already has announced plans to hire the nation's first executive director for Agri-Tourism, which promotes Kentucky's farm festivals and operations as tourist destinations.
"Kentucky has been blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and resources making agri-tourism one of the most exciting potential markets for Kentucky families," Fletcher said. "I am proud to have proclaimed September as 'Agri-Tourism Month' in Kentucky. More and more Americans are becoming interested in the beauty, heritage, and recreational opportunities afforded by rural America."
While putting SGA squarely on the Agri-Tourism bandwagon, Governor Perdue also emphasized the potential inherent in history and music tourism. Here, too, Kentucky already is setting the standard. For example, Commissioner Fiveash has announced plans to revive the "Lewis and Clark Commission," an organization that became dormant under previous administrations.
Under a commission from President Thomas Jefferson, citizen-soldiers William Lewis and George Rogers Clark left Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 31, 1803, to explore the West and open it for civilization. Their expeditionary force included 32 soldiers and nine civilians recruited from Kentucky, including one African-American slave. On Nov. 7, 1805, the expedition caught sight of the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
While various Lewis and Clark bicentennial observances already have been held in Kentucky, the members of SGA now will join the party.
The historic role of music in the South's culture also will be emphasized in Governor Perdue's plan for the SGA states. In Kentucky, where Bill Monroe became the father of Bluegrass music, native Kentucky artists such as John Michael Montgomery, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, and Montgomery Gentry are among those appearing at the Mountain Arts Center and the Paramount Arts Center.
The Kentucky Music Trail in the eastern portion of the state includes the new Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum at Renfro Valley, historic homes, the Appalachian Artisan Center, the Jenny Wiley State Park, and other spots.
"I commend Governor Perdue and the SGA for this initiative," said Fletcher, "and I'm sure they'll find that there are plenty of opportunities to promote tourism through agriculture, history, and music.
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