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Caldwell: Milestone great time to appreciate Bluegrass State

Happy birthday Kentucky! You are looking good for 225 years old.

This year — and June specifically — marks the official anniversary of statehood for the Bluegrass State. Countless groups and organizations will participate in a year-long recognition of the “history, natural beauty and rich traditions that make us proud to call this state home,” according to organizers of the celebration efforts.

Originally formed from a county of Virginia, the territory known as Kentucky ratified a constitution on April 19, 1792, at Constitution Square in Danville. Kentucky officially became the 15th state on June 1 of that year. Isaac Shelby, a Revolutionary War hero and convention delegate, was named the first governor. It was not until 1818 that the state we know today came into existence as the westernmost region was purchased from the Chickasaw Indians and added to the original area.

Two and a quarter centuries is certainly worth celebrating.

The Kentucky 225th Anniversary Commission was created by the legislature and is administered by the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. A number of elected and appointed officials are on the commission and there are a host of government partner agencies and organizations.

The most exciting part is all the things going on to commemorate the milestone anniversary.

The group has set up ky225.com as a great resource of information. It has a brief history, a calendar of events, photos and much more.

Although not all are tied to the anniversary, there are nearly a thousand events from all corners of Kentucky on the calendar. They all showcase the uniqueness of the Bluegrass.

One of the most interesting parts to me is the Kentucky Bucket List, a compilation of, well, 225 things everyone should do once in their lives. It is sorted by region and also includes more than 50 other statewide suggestions.

This bucket list showcases so many great attractions that range from well-known destinations like Mammoth Caves and the Louisville Slugger factory to hidden gems like to Bill Monroe’s home place and the Big South Fork Railway.

Clark County makes the list three times with a tour of the Ale-8 plant, the Beer Cheese Trail and Graze Restaurant.

It is easy to take our amazing state for granted and overlook the rich history and heritage that makes it a great place to call home. The countless memories made here strengthen the ties for most of us.

The committee turned to the words of “Happy” Chandler, Sr., former governor and one time commissioner of Major League Baseball, to sum up what it means to call the region home.

“I never met a Kentuckian who wasn’t either thinking about going home or actually going home,” he said.

Amen.

From firsthand experience of living elsewhere, I can say “Happy” hit a homerun with those words.

Happy birthday to the Bluegrass State! The best gift we can give is our appreciation and respect for the beautiful region we call home.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.