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Festivals, fairs give us community identity

Nothing captures the spirit, heritage and culture of a community quite like our local festivals and county fairs, each intertwined in the past, present and future of the people who call a place home.

And it’s almost time to make more memories.

The Kentucky Wine and Vine Fest returns today with a host of events slated to showcase the greatness of Jessamine County and celebrate Kentucky’s thriving wine industry.

The fun starts Thursday with the Kentucky Farm to Table Dinner from 7 to 10 p.m. on First Street behind the Jessamine County Courthouse. Chef-prepared small plates are paired with award-winning Kentucky wines to create an enchanting evening.

Friday is the Taste of Jessamine County from 6 to 8 p.m. at R.J. Corman Hangar, where you can sample tasty treats prepared by more than 75 chefs and food connoisseurs from in and around Jessamine County. All for the great cause of raising money for three local charities.

Nicholasville will really come to life from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can browse the booths of more than a dozen Kentucky wineries to sip, savor and enjoy. Attractions also will include art displays, live music, crafts and food.

For more information, visit kywinefest.com.

Take a little time to catch your breath then get ready for some fair fun.

The Jessamine County Fair is set for July 9 to 14.

From the delicious sugary aroma of funnel cakes to the heart-pumping exhilaration of carnival rides to the ear-to-ear smiles of 4-H winners, nothing personifies small-town Americana quite like a county fair.  

These events serve many roles in our communities often becoming part festival, part family reunion, part business showcase — and everything in between.

Anyone who says the county fair is only for farmers or those who live in the country has no idea what they are missing. 

County fairs change lives and shape the community.

They provide safe and positive activities for families. From Midway-style attractions to big-name musical entertainment to countless animal shows, there is something for everyone. 

The economic impact helps makes our communities better places to live. Thousands of people will visit these events, spending their hard-earned money here in Central Kentucky. Every dollar gets re-circulated a dozen times or more, helping to employ local people and injecting life into the economy. 

Fairs and the 4-H programs that drive them teach youth countless invaluable lessons about responsibility, hard work, leadership, commitment, public speaking and more. 

All of our local fairs and festivals, regardless of the specific focus, accomplish something so important in today’s high-tech, connected-in-more-ways-than-ever-but-less-connected-in-the-ways-that-really-matter world: They bring us together as human beings.

Our communities need that, perhaps now more than ever.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at mike.caldwell@jessaminejournal.com.