Bluegrass. It’s a state; a region; a music genre—even a lifestyle. Oh yes, it’s grass, too. Legend has it that when early settlers looked out on the fields of Poa pratensis in Central Kentucky, the seed heads took on a purplish hue. In the sun, it looked blue-green. Hence, the name bluegrass was born.
Ever since then, Kentucky has been known as the Bluegrass State, and the 15 counties comprising Lexington and surrounding areas is the Bluegrass Region. It’s interesting that when people think of Kentucky, they think of the Bluegrass Region with its rolling hills, plank and stone fences, and rich agricultural heritage with the horse at the top of the list.
There’s a certain lifestyle associated with the Bluegrass just as there is with many other regions of the United States. Ours is one slow in pace and quick to please. Southern Hospitality is an often touted characteristic of the folks who call the Bluegrass home.
The architecture is diverse, but any true Bluegrass resident would love to call Ashland their own. That was the estate of Henry Clay—a lawyer and senator from Kentucky who was considered the Great Compromiser because of his efforts to delay a Civil War in the mid-1800s.
And there’s a Bluegrass cuisine to tempt a traveler’s palate. Country ham, cheese grits, burgoo, fried chicken, catfish, hush puppies, farm-fresh vegetables, spoon bread, corn pudding and blackberry cobbler are among the local favorites.
Bluegrass music, though, wasn’t born in the Bluegrass Region. The music genre traces its roots back to Rosine, Kentucky—some 233 kilometers west of Lexington. It was there in 1911 that Bill Monroe was born. Poor eyesight prevented him from taking advantage of normal childhood recreational activities, so he learned to play a musical instrument instead—specifically the mandolin. Although he went through a series of musical iterations, in 1948 Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys had honed the sound that is Bluegrass music—so named because of Monroe’s roots in the Bluegrass State.
Even though the music isn’t home-grown in Lexington, the Kentucky Horse Park annually serves as the site for one of the largest Bluegrass festivals in the country. More than one version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” can be heard over the three-day run of the event.
So Bluegrass isn’t really blue. But it does distinguish Central Kentucky from neighboring states and even other regions within the state with its scenery, its architecture, its cuisine and its (adopted) music. The Bluegrass Region has been host to some major events recently, but nothing to rival the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Visitors should plan to embrace the Bluegrass lifestyle. We’ll be happy to show you how.
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