Lexington, Kentucky, was once known as “Athens of the West.” In the beginning of the 19th century, it was considered the Far West, and colonizers had the goal of bringing “civilization” to the wilderness. Today, Lexington is situated in Fayette County (pronounced “fay-it”), is the second biggest city in Kentucky (behind the Louisville Metro area),is home to the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University, and is a bustling hub of activity.
Lex is surrounded by a road called New Circle 4. It’s a little freeway (speed limit 55) that can get you from Hamburg to Nicholasville Road without having to weave and stop through half an hour of traffic. I haven’t journeyed much outside the circle (except with a purpose — going to Frankfort or Red River Gorge, for example), but it’s extremely useful for getting around. Ann Arbor is currently undergoing major traffic going west on the highway, and the traffic is atrocious. Imagine if traffic was that slow without construction on a regular basis. That’s Lexington after 4pm, every day.
Like Ann Arbor, however, Lexington has one thing in common: both are college towns, and everything is blue. The University of Kentucky likes to say, “Go big blue!” and I try not to roll my eyes too hard at it. I pass their football field every day on my way to Ashland, but UK is a member of the SEC…so I can understand why they care more about basketball. It’s no Big House. Another aspect of UK that’s caught my attention is that everyone I’ve met that goes to UK or has graduated has a degree in animal science, something pre-pharmacy, or another science. UK was Kentucky A&M for a long time, and they do agriculture better than almost every other school in the country. Sorry, MSU.
Lexington does one thing better than anyone else around, though, and they have for years: horses.
Lexington is Horse City, U.S.A. Their city flag has a horse named Lexington on it, colored UK blue. It’s the city symbol, and it’s on stickers, t-shirts, letterheads, flags — it’s unmissable. Augmented by Red Mile Racetrack, the prestigious Keeneland, the Horse Park and International Museum of the Horse, and thousands of acres of sprawling horse farms, there is no doubt that the equine industry holds this city together. The Kentucky Derby is essentially a holiday, and you’ll pass at least 100 horses driving in-or-out of Lexington in any direction.
At its core, Lexington is an agricultural city with a lot of pride in basketball, horses, and their history and culture. As I wind down my time here at Ashland, I’m able to appreciate Lexington for its balance of city and rural life. That being said, I’m quite ready to come hoMe.