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Program 1214

1. Smith-Berry Winery and Vineyard
2. Woodford County Theatrical Arts Association
3. woodworker Karen Scates
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Season 12 Menu

Henry County

For more information:
Smith-Berry Winery, P.O. Box 44, Highway 202, New Castle, KY 40050, (502) 845-7091

Producer, editor: Charlee Heaton
Videographer: John Breslin
Audio: Brent Abshear, Charlie Bissell, Thomas Cooper

A Touch of the Grape

Smith-Berry Winery

Though the state has never particularly been known as a wine-producing region, Kentuckians have been growing wine grapes ever since the first European settlers moved west from the original American colonies. In fact, the Kentucky Vineyard Society is one of the oldest such state associations. Today, wine-making is on the upsurge in the Commonwealth, encouraged by studies and reports that recommend growing grapes as one alternative for farmers looking to break away from dependence on tobacco.

Opinions differ on whether Kentucky can eventually compete with California’s Napa Valley and the vineyards of Europe (our winters do make things hard on some leading grape varieties). But boosters see great potential in the idea of “destination wineries”—smaller-scale operations that draw tourists and sell their wine on-site. We tour one such operation in this edition of Kentucky Life with a visit to the Smith-Berry Winery in Henry County.

Operated by husband and wife Chuck and Mary Smith, the winery is located on a 100-acre farm that once grew tobacco and cattle almost exclusively. The first grapes were planted in 2000 as part of a diversification effort that has also included a free-range poultry operation. Now the winery produces around a dozen varieties a year. Chuck, who spent some years learning about the business in the Napa Valley, is the vintner.

Smith-Berry also has a small art gallery with a permanent “family” collection of works by two local artists who also happen to be Mary’s maternal grandparents, as well as changing exhibits by other regional artists. The winery also hosts musical concerts and other community events and has a meeting space for rent.

By diversifying into such a wide range of products and operations, the Smiths have been able to hold onto their land and maintain life on the farm as a viable way for their daughters to make a living. And that must surely gladden the heart of another well-known family member. Mary Berry Smith is the daughter of farmer and writer Wendell Berry, whose stories, novels, essays, and poems have made him one of America’s best-known and most passionate spokesmen for the vital place of the family farm in American society.

Woodford County

For more information:
Woodford Theatre, 275 Beasley Dr., Versailles, KY 40383, (859) 873-0648

Producer, editor: Wesley Jay Akers
Videographers: David Dampier, Brandon Wickey
Audio: Charlie Bissell

Putting on a Show

Woodford County Theatrical Arts Association

Spend any time at all with Beth Kirchner, and you’ll soon realize that she, too, is a person with a passion. A former actress who now concentrates on directing and producing, she is a firm believer in the magic of theater and its power not just to inspire individuals but also to help build community.

Beth puts that passion to work as artistic director of the Woodford County Theatrical Arts Association, a community theater company headquartered at Versailles’ Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center. (The name has been shortened to the Woodford Theatre since our visit.) With just a few paid staff members and a dedicated troupe of unpaid volunteers—including all the actors—the theater produces a full season of shows each year, along with special demonstration performances and a summer schedule of theater education workshops for all ages.

As Beth explains on this tour, the facility itself is also an important asset for the Woodford Theatre. The fully equipped 310-seat theater in the Falling Springs Center has helped attract a wider audience as well as actors, designers, and directors from around the region. Our behind-the-scenes peek includes scenes of cast and crew preparing for a production of the musical Tom Sawyer from the 2004/05 season.

Though Beth herself is no longer acting, she has found another personal creative outlet. She’s the wife of renowned Versailles sand sculptor Damon Farmer (featured in Kentucky Life programs 315 and 1205), and has graduated from serving as his support crew to designing and building her own sand creations.

Warren County

For more information:
• Karen’s Miniatures, 12066 Nashville Rd., Woodburn, KY 42170, (270) 796-7228

Producer: Barbara Deeb
Videographer, editor: Cheryl Beckley

Scaling It Down

Miniatures carver Karen Scates

Woodworker Karen Scates specializes in musical instruments. She carefully shapes and bends the pieces, adds delicate inlay work in a variety of hardwoods, then finishes and polishes the assembled mandolin, guitar, or dulcimer until it’s truly a work of art. The only real difference between her work and that of other skilled luthiers is that she often has to use magnifying glasses and surgical tools—because her musical instruments are 1/12th normal size.

Karen has been working in miniature for more than 20 years. Her grandfather introduced her to the beauty of wood and the joys of working with it while she was growing up on their small farm in Woodburn. She combined that background with a lifelong fascination with scale models to arrive at a specialty that has made her meticulously crafted pieces much sought after by collectors who appreciate fine detail.

An avid birdwatcher, Karen also puts her observational skills to work in bird and wildlife carvings, which are delicately crafted and painted to be as realistic as possible.

Karen is a juried member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation, and the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program. In 1993, the Year of the American Craft, she was one of the artists chosen to create an ornament for display on the White House Christmas tree.

McCreary County

For more information:
Farm House Inn, 735 Taylor Branch Rd., Parkers Lake, KY 42634, (606) 376-7383

On Location

Dave hosts this edition from the Farm House Inn, a McCreary County bed-and-breakfast surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest. A longer stay at this cozy inn can be found in Kentucky Life Program 1301.

SEASON 12 PROGRAMS: 120112021203120412051206120712081209121012111212
1213121412151216121712181219122012211222: Dr. Clark’s Kentucky Treasures

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