Experience Kentucky’s stories at one of these historic sites.
My Old Kentucky Home State Park
If re-enactors at My Old Kentucky Home State Park seem convincing, it’s because the park hires professional actors who also star in the park’s summer musical, “The Stephen Foster Story.” Charismatic guides tell stories and sing songs written by Stephen Foster, composer of the state song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” which was based on his time in Federal Hill.
The scripted tours reveal fascinating details about the prominent Rankin family, who lived there, and Foster, the family’s most famous guest. The tours also touch on how Foster’s song influenced feelings about slavery at the time.
Groups can add a culinary experience, such as a traditional mint julep demonstration. Interpreters start with fresh mint that grows in the on-site garden and then add house bourbon, spring water and a sprig of mint over crushed ice to finish the drink. Everyone sips the Kentucky cocktail before taking home a souvenir cup.
Fort Boonesborough State Park
One of America’s first folk heroes, Daniel Boone, founded Fort Boonesborough in 1775. Boone faced Kentucky’s wild frontier to construct the state’s second-oldest European-American settlement. Fort Boonesborough State Park re-created much of the original working fort with cabins, bunkhouses and furnishings. Seasonally, resident artisans offer demonstrations for a taste of Kentucky pioneer life. Recovered saddle buckles, cooking utensils and animal bones found at the original fort are on display in the fort’s museum.
Visitors begin tours with a short film about Boone and Fort Boonesborough’s exciting past before visiting the cabins and listening to interpreters describe 18th-century life. Weavers, soap-makers, spinners and woodworkers explain the various skills needed to survive.
Also within the park, the Kentucky River Museum offers exhibits on how the Kentucky River influenced the area’s commerce and development. Each September, the fort re-enacts the 1778 Siege of Boonesborough, when the Shawnee Native Americans tried to capture the fort.