Midway News and Views
Weisenberger Bridge – The Bridge To Nowhere, Part 2.
The latest news on the bridge is... that there is really no change since last week. The guard rails are still up, the signs are still there and motorists and pedestrians are not allowed to cross.
My two cents worth is that the bridge should not have been closed for two years and certainly not for one more before it is fully functional again. Local residents, including the nearby Zion Hill Community, depend on the bridge for access.
For instance, my children ride horses, and we often head to the Horse Park or to Masterson Station with the horse trailer. It used to be a 10- minute drive to Masterson, but now takes 20 minutes because I have to drive through Midway – completely around the block. (Of course, I love a drive through our town, but sometimes I’m in a hurry.) The lack of a bridge also adds ten to fifteen minutes to my drives to the Horse Park or to the Hamburg area of Lexington for work.
But my pain is minor compared to that of other residents and families who need the bridge to get to older relatives, or used to use it daily, like the many Toyota workers who commute from Versailles to Georgetown for work.
A short Google search found “Free Things to Do in the Horse Capital of the World: Lexington, Kentucky” lists a country drive to Weisenberger Mill, established in 1865, as one of the top attractions. The site even mentions the 1862 grindstone from the original mill displayed out front, and the ones that make up the stone wall of the house on the Woodford County side of the bridge.
Interestingly, Weisenberger Mill products are used not just locally but shipped to many states for restaurant use. Their grits can be found on the menu at Nick Ryan’s restaurant, many Lexington restaurants such as Tony’s, Doodles, Windy Corner and Honeywood use their products, while local craft distillers like Limestone Branch and Barrel House Distilling use locally-grown Weisenberger white corn for their bourbon. This is the same corn used for grits, but ground to distillery specification.
Yet despite the income and draw the Mill brings to this area, it seems little is being done to help customers and deliveries get to the Weisenberger Mill. And now, many visitors to the bridge cannot easily enjoy the waterfall and scenic view of the Mill because of the bridge closure. Cyclists and motorcyclists can no longer traverse the bridge and we are still a year away, at best, from the bridge reopening. Patience wearing thin? You bet.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, several Midway and Woodford County farms, horses and people were recently in the spotlight.
Former Gov. Brereton Jones’ Woodford County-based Airdrie Stud stands the exciting young stallion Summer Front, a son of War Front. At the 2017 Keeneland November Sale, Davant Latham, a Midway resident, purchased a weanling colt from Summer Front’s first crop for $170,000 (more than 10 times the $15,000 stud fee). Fast forward to August 2018 – just a few weeks ago – and Latham’s partnership sold that colt for $325,000 at the Saratoga Yearling Sale in Saratoga, N.Y. bringing a significant profit for Latham and his partnership.
Also profiting at Saratoga was Midway-based McMahon & Hill Bloodstock, as their partnership was part of the group that sold the sale-topping $1.5 million American Pharoah filly!
Woodford County also had more than its share of racing success in Saratoga. Among those victories was Marley’s Freedom dominating the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes. Marley’s Freedom was foaled and raised at Brookdale Farm. Brookdale consigned the Blame filly to the Keeneland September Sale, where she was purchased for $35,000 by agent Davant Latham for Cicero Farms. Marley’s Freedom is trained by two-time Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Triple Crown this year with Woodford County foaled and raised Justify. Marley’s Freedom has won over $625,000 and is the favorite for the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at the Breeders Cup this year.
Finally – with just a few days before the weekend’s Midway Fall Festival, I thought it would be a great opportunity to chat with Elisha Holt, the event coordinator for the Midway Fall Festival, to see what visitors to the Festival could expect this year.
“Visitors can expect a handcrafted festival showcasing local artisans,” explained Holt. “The artists work hard all year for this festival. It’s a great time to go Christmas shopping and support regional artists.”
Holt described some of the artists who will be attending this year’s 44th annual Midway Fall Festival.
“Tater Knob Pottery. They’ll be demonstrating and selling functional pottery including mugs, plates, bowls, luminaries, spoonbread bakers and more,” said Holt.
Sorghum demonstrations will be provided by Bluegrass Maple Syrup of Versailles. Jim and Nancy Phillips, long-time festival vendors, will provide basket weaving displays. And Laury Gardiner, a watercolor artist from Versailles, will also be setting up.
Shepherd’s Creations Alpaca Farm will also be back at the festival again this year. They will bring their alpacas for visitors to pet, and feed, and offer items to sell made from alpaca wool.
Food vendors include Mezzo, Crank and Boom, the Pasta Garage, while others will have funnel cakes, turkey legs, kettle corn and gyros. Vendors interested in signing up for a spot at the fall festival next year need to do so early, as vendor spots have been full for over six weeks now.
The event is presented by the Midway Business Association (MBA), a non-profit organization that gives back to the community. So attendees to this year’s festival should know that money raised from hosting the event go back into the community. Volunteers come from local churches and the Woodford County High School Community Activism class. The MBA makes donations to these organizations as a thank you for their involvement. Supporters from the groups pick up trash after the event or park cars as a way to give back to the community. Local churches always get involved in the weekend.
“One church even provides parking, a hotdog and a Coke, plus a shuttle to the festival, all just for a donation,” said Holt. Visitors to the event will have access to some on-street parking, Southern Equine Farm, and churches, which will offer shuttle service to the festival.
“Evans Orchard is also providing their miniature train ride for the weekend’s festival, and R.J. Corman is bringing their Dinner Train,” added Holt.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.