By Kathy Witt
Visitors to Leitchfield are often surprised at the genuine hospitality and Southern charm that permeates this tiny community tucked along the Western Kentucky Parkway in Grayson County. Even more so, they are amazed at what all this picturesque area has to offer.
Leitchfield delivers everything that comes to mind when folks dream of a relaxing getaway – small-town warmth, fun fairs and festivals, lakes, entertainment and great scenery to help you while away the hours.
Plus fiddles. Lots and lots of fiddles.
Officially designated the “Fiddling Capital of Kentucky” in April 2016, Leitchfield was incorporated in 1866 and is the seat of Grayson County and is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. Nicknamed the “Home of the Twin Lakes” because both the Nolin Lake and Rough River Lake flow within its borders, it is the site of the Twin Lakes National Fiddlers Competition, which takes place during the Leitchfield Freedom Festival the third weekend in July. Come to Courthouse Square to hear fiddlers from all over the region perform, see the fiddling queen get crowned and catch a booming fireworks spectacle.
If you visit Leitchfield during these two events, now known as Freedom and Fiddlin’, you just might spy Garth Brooks’ fiddle player on stage or about town. Jimmy Mattingly, who started playing the fiddle at age eight, grew up in Leitchfield and returns to the area to perform during the Twin Lakes National Fiddlers Competition and to visit family when his schedule permits.
Fiddling & Festivals
Other ways to enjoy fine fiddle music are at bluegrass music shows at Rough River Dam State Resort Park the second Friday night of each month and at Grayson County Bluegrass Opry, which offers a free show on the third Saturday night of the month, September through May.
Music is a focus of many Grayson County festivals, too, from the Memorial Day Parade to Nolin Fest. But this festival-crazed county celebrates all kinds of themes from May through December, including the three-day Clarkson Official State Honeyfest to the Rumble Over Rough, a Fourth of July fireworks show on the beach at Rough River Dam State Resort Park.
Grayson County’s two state parks, Rough River Dam State Resort Park and Nolin Lake State Resort Park, add lots of recreational opportunities: camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming, plus tubing and boating on both park lakes. Familiar with orienteering? Give this woods navigation sport a try at Rough River Dam, exploring the forest as you complete a course using map and compass.
If your time in the area is limited, make a beeline for Pine Knob Theatre, celebrating its 30th season in 2016, for the theatre under the stars. Catch shows about the local lore (“Doc Brown – Legend of an Outlaw” and “Down in Hoodoo Holler”) as well as musicals from the 1950s and 1960s.
You can also check out one of the most complete historical communities in Grayson County, and have dinner at a picnic table before the show or in the Train Diner Car that seats just 12 for a buffet spread during the show.
More Outdoor Treasures
Leitchfield and Grayson County don’t lack for hidden gems. Go off-roading at the Falls ATV Park with about 1,200 acres of trails, from easy gravel roads to rugged terrain in the woods. Prefer mountain biking? Head to Briar Creek Mountain Bike Trails on Nolin Lake for nearly 10 miles of trails through Kentucky hardwood forests. Swim and splash at the Leitchfield Aquatic Center with its zero-depth entry, lazy river, two three-story water slides and a separate toddler pool with various play structures.
Of course you will work up an appetite. When hunger hits, pop into K’s Café in Clarkson, where you’ll find home-cooking in a historical setting, or Farmer’s Feedmill Restaurant, known far and wide for its wild game nights. Being in the City of Twin Lakes may inspire you to head to Grayson’s Landing Restaurant, located at Rough River Dam State Resort Park, to chow down on Kentucky faves, including catfish, fried chicken strips, country ham, corncakes and more, while taking in the view of the lake.
Fiddles, festivals and fun times – Leitchfield/Grayson County is known as “a simple little trip for a relaxing getaway.” For whatever reason you visit, you’ll come away feeling like you’ve been able to slow down and enjoy every single moment of your time here. Plan your getaway today at 270-259-2735 or www.VisitGrayson.com.
If You Go
Briar Creek Mountain Bike Trails, 270-286-4240
Clarkson Official State Honeyfest, 270-242-3981 or 270-242-2111
Falls ATV Park, 270-879-3115
Farmers Feedmill Restaurant, 270-389-0047
Freedom and Fiddlin’, 270-259-5587
Grayson County Bluegrass Opry, 270-230-9133
Grayson’s Landing Restaurant at Rough River Dam State Resort Park, 270-257-2311
K’s Café, 270-242-9904
Leitchfield Aquatic Center, 270-259-4420
Nolin Lake State Resort Park, 270-286-4240
Nolin’s Summer Splash, 270-272-8003
Pine Knob Theatre, 270-879-8190 or 270-991-8191
Rough River Dam State Resort Park, 270-257-2311