By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Tourism within the county should run high this year with many special events planned for the spring, summer and fall.
April marks the annual Redbud Ride with festivities kicking off with a block party on Friday, April 12 and the ride beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 13.
London Downtown executive director Chris Robinson told the tourism board members that nearly 600 persons have already registered for this year’s ride, which is more than this time last year. The Redbud Ride continues to grow in its popularity with bicyclists and neighboring cities have jumped on the bandwagon to sponsor events to draw even more cycling enthusiasts to the area for a full weekend of activities. Barbourville will host an event on Saturday evening following the ride, with guided tour rides being offered back in London on Sunday morning.
Rodney Hendrickson, co-director of the Tourism Commission and avid bicyclist himself, said the registration for the 2013 Redbud Ride was already 75 more persons than were registered this time last year. Participants already registered are coming from 15 states as far away as Connecticut, New Jersey and Michigan, he said. Over 200 volunteers are needed to help with the event, and Hendrickson said interested persons should contact either London Downtown (606 862-8841) or the Tourism Office (606 878-6900) for more information on volunteering.
Deanna Herrmann, executive director of the London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber is offering a tour of Ireland, set for November. The cost is $2499 per person with double occupancy rooms and includes an eight-day trip, airfare, and nine meals. More details on the trip can be found by visiting the website, www.collettevacations.com/link/557297. An informational meeting on the trip is set for Wed., May 1 at the Jackson Energy Community Room on Ky. 229 at 6 p.m.
London District Ranger Jason Nedlo told board members that the Sheltowee Trace hike, scheduled for June, will highlight the many aspects of the Daniel Boone National Forest and offers participants the chance to swim, hike and enjoy some mountain biking during the event.
That brought up another possibility of the tourism commission working with the Forest Service. Hendrickson said he was working with a group for an orienteering adventure that could be held in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Orienteering offers a map of a specific area highlighting points along the way.
Orienteering is the newest fad among outdoor enthusiasts. Hendrickson explained that participants receive a map and use compasses to locate a certain site. Once they reach that site, they find a clue and map for the next point along the course.
“Whoever gets to all the points first wins,” Hendrickson explained.
May and June will bring in other tourist drawings with the archery tournament, preceded by the Kentucky Scholastic Championship two days prior. Hendrickson said approximately 1,000 students accompanied by family members would converge on London for the academic tournament. London is set to host the 2014 National Scholastic Championship, with Hendrickson stating that he was writing a grant to offset the expenses of the event.
The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournament in early June is another event that will bring tourists into the county, as will the 2013 H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Rally the following weekend. The H.O.G. Rally is expected to bring in hundreds of bikers and their families for the event. Currently plans are being made for a block party in downtown London on the Friday before Saturday’s Rally, with the Friday event labeled as “Motorcycles on Main.”
“We’ve got a lot of activities coming up and we hope everyone gets out to enjoy some of them,” Hendrickson said.