Clay and I have lived our entire lives in Kentucky. Much of that has been centered around one area in Central Kentucky. Yet, we’ve never really toured much of the state, locally or cross state! But that is changing. We started branching out and exploring more of our home state recently, and we love it! I told you a little about High Bridge in Jessamine County, Kentucky and Blue Heron and Stearns, now I’m going to tell you about Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
Clay and I partnered with the Mercer County Tourist Commission, with a hosted visit, to share with you some of the attractions and eateries in Harrodsburg. We took a Saturday and, as a family, visited 3 unique Harrodsburg, Kentucky establishments including:
- Arts Council of Mercer County Studio & Gallery
- Dedman Drugstore/Kentucky Fudge Company
- Old Fort Harrod State Park
I have a slideshow beneath each section!
Artist Laura Sullivan, who leads the class at the Arts Council of Mercer County Studio & Gallery, is also certified in animal rescue and she brought some critters with her. She brought a disabled raccoon that had been attacked by a dog and left crippled, baby opossum, baby fox and baby raccoons as well as a young flying squirrel. Before the kids got started painting, they were able to learn more about the wildlife and hold and interact with them. The animals sort of roam the room while the class is taking place. And it wasn’t weird! Laura put everyone at ease with how loving and caring she is with these rescued babies. It all seemed so natural.
Now think about what I just said. “It all seemed so natural.” Our oldest daughter, literally, sat with a baby opossum on her head and shoulder for an hour and a half! It didn’t want to leave her and she wasn’t about to give it up until she had to. She may or may not have earned the nickname “Ellie Mae” that day and she may be going to do some “critter foster care” this summer! Oh boy!
We all took turns holding the animals. Some would jump from person to person and get comfortable for awhile, then move on to someone else. The baby fox ran around nibbling on my flip flop. And on my toe once! And. It. Didn’t. Seem. Weird. Strange, huh?
It was exciting and fun and the animals were so at home with Laura and in the studio that the combination of artwork and wildlife was just so natural. Our girls who, honestly, weren’t excited about painting, now want to go back. Not just for the animals but for the art fun as well. Score one for Laura Sullivan y’all!
Next up was some hand washing, then lunch at Kentucky Fudge Company which is housed where the old Dedman Drugstore used to be. We’d never been there but had heard great things about the food. We weren’t disappointed either!
Clay and our oldest daughter ordered the “Harrods Burger”. It is this super thick, juicy, meatloaf burger loaded with toppings. This thing was huge! There were some musicians playing bluegrass music when we arrived and several veterans sitting around listening. One older man stopped by the table, patted Clay on the shoulder, and said he was sorry he had to leave because he was curious to see if Clay could eat the whole thing. Clay said he sure was gonna try! 😀
He ate all his burger but couldn’t finish his potato salad!
One of our daughters had the Harrods Burger topped with Pimento Cheese served with potato chips and house made ranch dip. That dip is really good! Our other daughter had the chicken salad sandwich and potato chips and I had a turkey and cheese sandwich and baked potato salad. The sandwich was loaded with fresh tomatoes and lettuce and that potato salad was so good! It was all delicious and the portions are pretty big. We were certainly full when we left. Not just food-wise either. We heard great music. We munched on delicious food. We chatted with a local resident and the staff was incredibly nice and helpful. Small town generosity and all that = full hearts as well!
Of course, our bellies were extremely full. We didn’t have room for dessert. Man, I really wanted some fudge or a sundae! I was going to buy some fudge to take home but I was so full I couldn’t even look at it!
Lastly on our trip to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, was Old Fort Harrod. Clay and I had both been there before as kids. So we knew a little about it but it had been a while and we definitely needed a refresher.
It’s small but there is a lot of history to be learned there. And the staff seems to really take pride in what they are doing. They made it feel like they were really part of the fort. Not just because they were dressed the part but in the stories they told. We spoke with the gunsmith, blacksmith, inn keeper and doll maker.
There were only a few people visiting that day and I was glad because we were able to really take our time and listen. We started at the “Gunsmithe”. He was chatting with another guest when we walked in and telling a story as if he really was the one that lived it. It made the story come alive and easy to remember.
Next was the Blacksmith and he showed us some puzzle games he had been making that day. He let us all try them out and, let me tell you, they were hard! I never did get that ring on that nail! Our middle daughter did. She tossed it right on there. We stood there quite a while talking about how those games were so much better for kids than video games and smartphones. And you know what? Our girls stood there the entire time taking turns with them. Not complaining. Not arguing. Just… playing. And laughing. And enjoying themselves.
Our next stop was the Inn Keeper. She was also talking to other guests when we joined. She kept right on going, including us in the conversation. She was telling about how she would have been responsible for any guests that stopped in and how there were 2 rooms upstairs. One for women and one for men. When you paid to stay, it wasn’t for a “room” it was for a “spot to sleep”. You may go to bed alone in your room but wake up with 4 other women in there. The rooms were shared!
She compared the prices of staying in a room and eating a meal there, compared to now, and told us about some of the reasons someone may need to stay at the fort. She explained that only one person, a woman, actually lived inside the fort and that others would be guests seeking shelter while traveling or looking for land to settle.
The last person inside the fort was the doll maker. She said there probably weren’t many dolls made in the beginning because of the lack of fabric. Corn would also need to be grown before it could be used in doll-making. But after awhile, the resources would be there.
She also talked to us about ways moms of the time would have to keep their children occupied while they went to draw water or do an outside chore, if staying at the fort for any length of time or even in their own homes during that time. Mom’s couldn’t exactly carry water and chase a baby around at the same time so, especially in the cooler months, if there was a fire in the fireplace, mom’s would have to pin their toddler’s gown (boy or girl) beneath the bed post to keep them safe. Seem’s out of place now but made sense for the time! She also taught us some of the native american’s habits and child care practices and then we moved on.
*NOTE – there are areas of Fort Harrod that can be reserved for a fee for events, weddings, etc!
My family and I had such a great time visiting Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It’s not more than a day trip for us so I don’t know why we had never visited much of it. But I am so glad we did! We were able to slow down for the day and experience 3 very different places that all left us feeling wonderful.
I would like to send a very special thank you to Karen P. Hackett, Executive Director Harrodsburg/Mercer County Tourist Commission, Arts Council of Mercer County, Kentucky Fudge Co and Fort Harrod for making our Fam trip possible.
We’ll definitely be visiting Harrodsburg, Kentucky again soon!
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