• By Vanessa Seitz Midway, Correspondent


The 45th Annual Midway Fall Festival This past weekend, the Midway Fall Festival was everything the organizers hoped it would be and more. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, “It was a banner year! The largest crowd we have ever seen, likely around 18,000 people! And it went incredibly smoothly for how many people were in town.” Vandegrift said that coordinator Elisha Holt, the Midway Business Association and the volunteers did a wonderful job and that the citizens of Midway were gracious and patient hosts. Holt agreed, saying that it was the biggest year ever for vendors and visitors. She said that Southern Equine’s parking lot was filled to capacity, but police did an amazing job directing traffic and visitors to Midway, keeping traffic congestion as manageable as possible. One comment Holt said she heard again and again was how many people noticed the upgraded musical offerings on the music stage sponsored again this year by Country Boy Brewing. “An overwhelming number of people contacted me over the past few months leading up to the festival, asking to play on the stage. I had a stage manager from Georgetown who planned the music entertainment – it was definitely an even bigger attraction this year!” Holt said Monday. “There were less food vendors this year and that was intentional,” said Holt. “We wanted the food vendors that came to make money; to not double up, say by having two ice cream trucks.” “It worked out well,” added Holt. “The food vendors had to be different, so we had Thai food, Cajun food, a coffee vendor, foods that complimented the Festival and were unique.” Holt also thought that the evening music went better that the year before and that many of the people who volunteered at the festival during the day went home, changed and came back to enjoy the music in the evening. “There was a solid crowd until 10 p.m. at the music stage,” said Holt happily. And the Sunday morning Iron Horse Half Marathon was a good addition to the festival, Holt said, when asked how the new festival format of the Iron Horse moving to the festival weekend impacted visitors and the vendors. “Traditionally Sunday morning is slow at the festival for the vendors,” explained Holt. “But with the race going off just after 7 a.m., there were visitors in town early and the vendors appreciated that. There were some 972 runners who also brought friends and family to Midway, and those people came into the festival after the race and bought goods from the vendors, food, and drinks and enjoyed some time at the festival. The two events really complimented each other,” said Holt. The 10th Annual Iron Horse Half Marathon and 3rd Annual 12K This year marked the 10th anniversary of the 13.1-mile half marathon over the now infamous Iron Horse Midway hill course. Race organizers from John’s Run Walk Shop moved the race up from its usual date in October to coincide with the Midway Fall Festival and also to perhaps bring in more runners; as the October date often conflicts with the 200-mile Bourbon Chase relay and other fall races. Two runners celebrated milestones this year. When Jenny Waybright crossed the finish line in this year’s Iron Horse, it marked the 50th half marathon she has run in 10 years. The Iron Horse was the very first mini-marathon she ran, back when the finisher’s medal was a railroad spike. Her second was Lexington’s RunTheBluegrass, and then she came full circle, completing her 50th right back where she started at Midway’s Iron Horse 10 years later! “I’ve had opportunities occasionally to help the community through running. I’ve had good races and bad races, fast (for me) races and slow races. I have met so many new friends through running. I’m inspired and challenged by the runners I know. I have run more races, full marathons (three), run faster, farther because of them. It’s hard to whine about being sore or a minor injury when you know what some of them run through. The running community is simply amazing,” said Waybright after the race. “Maybe I can inspire someone somewhere to do something that challenges them (not necessarily running!). I did that first half when I was 45!” said Waybright with a laugh. “If this old chick can start late and keep going anyone sure can! There will be a day when I will stop running. Today is not that day.” And your columnist was one of several runners celebrating running their 10th Iron Horse half marathon. Running back into Midway on the homestretch, past Darby Dan Farm’s Vinery division, emotionally I was caught up in the moment. Dressed as Wonder Woman (really, more people should run races dressed as a super hero, if for nothing more than to hear shouts and cheers from the crowd as you run (effortlessly…) past them to hear “Go Wonder Woman!” or “Look mum, it’s Wonder Woman!”….it makes me laugh and helps me keep going. I thought back to the other Iron Horse races in the past 10 years. I have run the race dosed up on meds and running basically with the flu; run alone and with friends; run fast (my fastest was my second Iron Horse in 2011 when I must have been getting chased by buffalo as my time was 1:41:32 – a 7.45 pace per mile for 13 miles!) and run slow (my slowest was in 2018 when I ran with a girlfriend and we talked and ran the whole way and finished some 24 minutes slower than my fastest time!). I have run the 13 miles of the Iron Horse in rain, in heat and everything in between and something keeps me coming back again and again. I love seeing people I know as I run, cheering each other on, conjoined in the race camaraderie, hopes and achievements. Of getting up in the morning, sipping a mug of hot, Kentucky Knows coffee and enjoying an English muffin before driving the short three miles from my house to the start (how can you NOT do a race when you live on the course and one of the water stops is at your house?). And after the race, reveling in the accomplishment of running 13.1 miles, savoring the weight of the hefty finishers medal around your neck, and knowing that yes, you will do it all again the following year.

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