By Kathy Witt
History will cast its shadow on Hopkinsville on Monday, Aug. 21, 2107, when a total eclipse of the sun plunges this western Kentucky town into darkness.
Billed as “the most exciting 2 minutes, 40 seconds in astronomy,” it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event – the breadth and scope of which hasn’t been seen since 1918, when an eclipse was visible in the United States from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic.
This is a BIG DEAL, folks. And where is THE place that has the best seats in the house, so to speak, in the entire world and the longest opportunity to view the eclipse? Predictions are that it will be right here in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in Christian County. Population: 31,000.
And that’s not all of the other-worldly treasures this area has in store!
Little Green Men
The town has already made history for its extraterrestrial ties. On Aug. 21, 1955 – exactly 62 years to the day before next year’s rare phenomenon – a “spaceship carrying 12 to 15 little men landed in the Kelly community” (or so they say) and thrust Hopkinsville into the headlines. How’s that for coincidental timing? (We like to say the little guys were just coming to get the best seats for next year’s major solar show!)
Today, the locals celebrate this Twilight Zone-worthy incident with a festival named in honor of the deep space denizens: Kelly Little Green Men Days takes place annually and is set for Aug. 18-21 in 2017 – coinciding with the big eclipse, of course. Come participate in a weekend of far-out fun, food and more!
Other events tied to the eclipse celebration include the Christian County Cattlemen’s Lonestar Rodeo, Aug. 18-19, at the Western Kentucky Fairgrounds, and a Summer Salute, which lasts the whole weekend of Aug. 18-20 and will feature headlining music acts, a chili cook-off, kids’ fun zone, food and crafts vendors and other activities.
Looking for yet another celestial tie? Before or after the eclipse, head to Hopkinsville’s Riverside Cemetery where you can pay your respects at the gravesite of Edgar Cayce, considered America’s greatest 20th century psychic. Known as the “Sleeping Prophet,” Cayce is attributed with predicting the Stock Market Crash of 1929, World War II and El Niño (wow!) but interestingly enough, there’s no mention of him foretelling the Aug. 21 total eclipse of the sun. You can learn all about him and the history of the area and its people at the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville.
Trail of Tears
Also not to be missed is Trail of Tears Commemorative Park, site of the 1838-1839 encampment set up during the forced removal of the Cherokee people and the burial site of Cherokee Chiefs Fly Smith and Whitepath. Of course, long before astronomers and telescopes, Native American medicine doctors would predict eclipses based on their knowledge of the earth and sky. Each year during the weekend following Labor Day, the park hosts a Pow Wow with Native American singing, storytelling, dance competitions, arts and crafts, foods – including fry bread – and more.
When you come to town, be sure to take your money and appetite to the historic downtown, the heart of Hopkinsville’s shopping and dining scene full of shops stocking books, jewelry, thrift store finds, quilting supplies, original artist works and other treasures.
Grab a meal or a snack – choosing among bakery goodies and other sweet treats, pub grub and fine dining – before heading to the Alhambra Theatre —the town’s main entertainment venue—for a performance, concert or film.
Drop by the Casey Jones Distillery to sample its liquid homage to the 2017 eclipse: Total Eclipse Moonshine. Then pop into MB Roland Distillery, a “grain to glass” craft distillery for a tour, tasting and Pickin’ on the Porch, a live music program presented on select Saturdays. Sip one of eight different craft beers at the Hopkinsville Brewing Company near the center of town—the first and only craft beer brewery to take up residence in Christian County.
More to See & Do
Time permitting, add some of Hopkinsville’s hidden gems to your list of things to see. Rummage for odds and ends at Young’s Hardware, the town’s oldest hardware store, having been established in 1898. If you’re looking for a little recreation, check out our city parks or stroll a segment of the Hopkinsville Rail Trail, which stretches out three miles along the former Fort Campbell railroad spur. Browse original artworks and handmade crafts at Griffin’s Studio, a gift shop, art gallery and art studio.
A total eclipse of the sun, a festival celebrating Little Green Men, a sacred space commemorating what Native Americans call “The Trail Where They Cried” and more. These are all great reasons to mark your calendar and hit the road for Hopkinsville this August!
Plan your once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Hopkinsville by calling 270-885-9096 or 800-842-9959 or visiting www.visithopkinsville.com.