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Monday, October 15, 2012

Review of Ham Days in Marion County - Day Trip!

This year was our first time experiencing Ham Days in Marion County. Ham Days is a festival held the last full weekend in September each year, and is listed as one of the top-ten events for Kentucky. It started about 40 years ago with only six hams, and today, Ham Days serves over 6,000 pounds of country ham. Aside from the country ham breakfasts, ham lunches, and ham dinners, Ham Days also has a Market Place of shops, an Arts and Crafts area, a Main Stage with live music, carnival rides, beauty pageants, contests, car and motorcycle shows, an auction, a 5K race, the Pigasus Parade, and more. We couldn't wait to check it out!

On our drive down to Lebanon, we enjoyed the scenery with a lot of horses and cows to keep the kids occupied in the car. We also went through historic Bardstown which is very cute! We passed by My Old Kentucky Dinner Train, My Old Kentucky Home State Park, several wineries and distilleries. I would have loved to check out Maker's Mark since it was so close, but with a full day, I didn't think the kids would tolerate the tour well.

We got there at 10am on Saturday and parking was tough. We were able to find street parking for free not too far from the main street, but we saw people walking long distances when we left several hours later. At 10am, there were already a lot of people in their spots for the 1pm parade, and a LONG line for the Call of the Wildman cast (Animal Planet show) autograph signing that was to follow the parade. My kids
and I hit the Market Place first, then the carnival rides. Very few vendors take anything but cash, but there is an ATM behind one of the banks in the festival area. There were a nice variety of shops, and most were very good prices. The carnival rides are $2 each, and there are rides for kids and adults. The workers were all very nice, and the rides looked clean and safe.

After the rides we headed over to Main Street to get our spots for the parade. I packed a lunch for us so we could eat cheaper and more conveniently, but I wish I had gotten the pork sandwich or brats - they looked good! While it wasn't a hot day, we started to cook outside waiting for the parade to start, and I wished I had sat on the
other side of the street in the shade of the buildings. My kids had hats and long pants to block the sun, but next year I will be bringing sun block! We also had some trouble with bugs bothering everyone in my area, so bug spray will be a must for next year too. The parade started and we enjoyed watching lots of beauty pageant winners, tractors, local businesses, law enforcement, Kosair volunteers, and of course, Turtle Man.

After the parade, it seemed like mass exodus of people moving from Main Street to the Call of the Wildman autographing area. The line must have been a mile long before the cast showed up to start signing their gear. A mom I had met earlier in the day said her husband went to stand on the autograph line as soon as they arrived at the festival while she took the kids around. I opted to not stand on the line for hours with two small children, and instead took my kids up to the "Official Turtle Man Gear" tent next to the front of the line. As we bought our $20 t-shirts, Turtle Man and the whole crew showed up to take their spots
at the table, so my kids got to stand a couple feet from them. Even
though they didn't get to talk to them, they enjoyed watching them show up and wave to the crowd.

We hit the Arts and Crafts area and Children's Area on our way out, but by 2 pm it was very crowded and not much fun for a mom to try to keep an eye on her kids. Note: Ham Days had port-a-potties conveniently located throughout the festival area which we used several times, and they were fairly clean when we used them.

We headed back home through the beautiful scenery, but after a full
day of excitement and sun, my kids were asleep before we made it back to Bardstown for some Baskin Robbins or a treat at one of their cute cafes. Ham Days was fun, but for next year my must have list will include: plenty of cash (very few will take credit, and shop prices were great), wagon/stroller for the kids (and purchases!), chairs for the autograph line and/or parade, bug spray, sun block (although I'll sit in the shade next time!), and drinks and snacks (I'll be sure to buy ham, but having your own snacks for when the funnel cake line is too long is helpful!). Can't wait for Ham Days 2013!
By guest contributor: Caryn

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