Midway News and Views
First, I want to introduce myself and say hello. New to the Midway column this week, I hope to be a voice for the news of Midway and share the colorful and interesting stories our beautiful hometown has to share. A Brit from across the pond in Jolly Ole England, I’ve lived in Woodford County the last 21 years, five of them in Midway in a piece of heaven down by Weisenberger Mill. A background in equine journalism in London led me to cover the Kentucky Derby, and a few months later I moved to Kentucky to work on a horse farm. Twenty-one years and four children later, I’m still here. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any Midway news and stories you have to share.
But less about me. What a night! The third and final Midsummer Nights in Midway was this past Friday, Aug. 24, in downtown Midway. We were blessed with a cooler than usual late evening, the smell of kettle corn in the air, and the sounds of the Feral Cats band blending with laughter and conversation. Midway showcased the hometown warmth for which we are known.
If there was one word to sum up the night, it was “community”: Vendors who attended the event, many of them from Woodford County and surrounding areas; the stores and businesses that kept their doors open late for throngs of visitors; and those who came to enjoy the evening – many of whom call Midway home – who walked through town greeting friends, talking to one another and enjoying the local hospitality.
And what a lot it has to offer. Every vendor I talked to had a story to tell. Each person I talked to enriched the evening and added flavor to the event. It was much like opening a book and getting to know the characters and stories within.
The first stop through town, with my camera slung over my shoulder, a pile of Woodford Sun business cards in my pocket and the advice of “Here’s Johnny” fellow columnist resonating through my head, was the candy and ice cream store, Sweet Tooth.
Business was brisk later, after the crowds spilled out of the restaurants after dinner, to get some of the homemade kettle corn and locally-made ice cream, but Sweet Tooth co-owner Kaye Nita Gallagher said the crowd was a little thinner than the previous two Midsummer Nights.
“Kids are back in school and the threat of rain may have kept some people away. It’s just a little slower compared to the last ones,” said Gallagher.
She was joined in the shop by Kenny Smith of Kennydid Gallery of Gifts and Fine Art from across the railroad tracks.
“Tonight people usually just browse, but they’ll be back. On Sundays, people come from all over – from Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Danville… Last Sunday, someone even came all the way from Chicago. They were on their way back from Gatlinburg and just stopped in. Some people come [to Midway] as a destination,” Smith said.
But with some stores open irregular hours, he pointed out that small-town businesses are different. “We are not a mall,” he said. “But most of my trade is in store, not online. Everyone here has a small business and opens as much as they can.”
Later, I met with Debra Shockey, President of Midway Renaissance, and Amy Bowman – the ladies behind Midsummer Nights in Midway.
Amy moved to Midway four years ago and quickly joined a church to get to know people. She got involved in the Midway Fall Festival, held each September, with her small business “Midway Embroidery and Gifts,” and this year spearheaded the Midsummer Nights in Midway.
“Midway is unique. The people are great. It’s a neat atmosphere,” Amy explained.
Vendors did not have to rent space for the evening, but did have to contact Amy to request a spot. The event was funded by several companies, including Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance, which sponsors the Bearded Brothers Photo Booth, and Midway Shell.
Several of the vendors were from local churches that, this summer, held a joint community vacation Bible school. “We had over 60 kids,” said Amy, who volunteered for her church, Midway United Methodist. “Just beyond what we had hoped.”
The VBS was run in conjunction with youth ministers Sarah and Lee Busick and their group “Locally Grown.”
Sarah said, “We serve kids from across our community, all 12 local churches. Since June 2016, we have served 77 kids in Midway. The youth group meets on Wednesday nights. We had 14 kids that first night. From our youth, we had 13 teenagers help with VBS this summer. It was an amazing unified effort. You need each other.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Locally Grown can reach Sarah and Lee at email@example.com.
There were some fun characters in Midway Friday night, among them, Midway resident Justin Stanley from The Green Penguin Hot Sauce company, who was promoting his marinades and salad dressings. Asked about his company name, he said, “My favorite color is green and penguins crack me up.”
Casey Lindsay from the coffee and food truck “The Rooster’s Whistle” made me the most amazing Italian cream ice, and Patrick Greene displayed crafts from his Greene Tings company. Patrick, a retired industrial arts teacher, now turns reclaimed wood and recycled horseshoes into wine racks, card holders and coat racks.
Walking back to my truck, the band still playing and the people of Midway still dancing and enjoying the event, I thought of how Midsummer Nights in Midway really shows how our community comes together and the warmth and uniqueness of the town we call home.
Finally, don’t forget that the Farmers Market is overflowing with an abundance of garden produce. Mondays at the United Bank parking lot by Darlin’ Jeans. The next one begins at 3 p.m. on Sept. 3.