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Kentucky Tourism

Renee speaks with Kristen Branscum, the commissioner of Kentucky's Department of Travel and Tourism. She discusses several of Kentucky's signature travel destinations, describing the commonwealth as "the front porch of the South."
Season 12 Episode 21 Length 28:01 Premiere: 02/24/17

Kentucky’s Appeal as a Tourism Destination

From fabric arts and fine dining in the west, to adventure sports in the east, the commonwealth provides natives and tourists enough diverse travel opportunities to fill a long weekend or a full vacation.

Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss just a few of the destinations and attractions the state has to offer.

Arts, Crafts, and Carp in Paducah
For those willing to venture beyond the iconic bluegrass region of central Kentucky, a host of treasures awaits travelers.

“We are pretty much known for bourbon and horses,” Branscum says. “But I think that’s a great entry point into getting to the state to learn more about us.”

Branscum starts her tour of the commonwealth in Paducah. The town of 25,000 people at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers is known for its National Quilt Musuem. But Branscum says Paducah has parlayed that one attraction into an international reputation as a haven for arts and crafts.

“Paducah is taking those old industrial buildings from their river traffic and re-creating a tourism destination like no other,” Branscum says.

Warehouses and lofts in the city’s revitalized LowerTown district now serve as homes and galleries for an array of artisans and craftspeople. The Paducah School of Art and Design has state-of-the-art facilities for those studying painting, ceramics, photography, and other artistic endeavors. This focus on arts and crafts has netted Paducah a UNESCO Creative City designation – one of only six American communities to receive that honor.

And with good art comes great food. As an example, Branscum highlights a unique dish served at Paducah’s Freight House restaurant. On the menu it’s listed as Kentucky snapper. In reality it’s Asian carp, the invasive species that’s threatening to overtake native freshwater fish in American rivers and lakes. Freight House gets Asian carp from a local processor who’s working on transforming the fish into the next culinary delicacy.

“It’s that full circle of a great tourism destination, local food, local food story, and helping eradicate a species that we need to get out of our waterways,” says Branscum.

Barbecue and Bluegrass in Owensboro
About two hours northeast of Paducah is another great Ohio River town. Branscum says Owensboro has long been a barbecue mecca, and now the city is continuing to develop its music scene with the International Bluegrass Museum, which is scheduled to reopen in 2018. The community even has a new bourbon distillery that offers tours to the public.

Branscum says Owensboro is an additional example of a Kentucky community working to revitalize its downtown by combining tourist attractions, local foodways, and engaging nightlife.

“That’s great for tourists but it’s so great for our local people – it’s good for quality of life and that’s also good in recruiting new businesses,” Branscum says. “That’s the great thing about tourism: It’s good for everybody.”

In fact tourism contributed nearly $14 billion to the state’s economy in 2015 alone. That makes tourism the third largest revenue-generating industry in Kentucky behind auto manufacturing and health care, according to Branscum.

As she looks to future vacation seasons, Branscum says her department is preparing to make a big push for food-related attractions starting next year. She says 77 percent of all travelers consider themselves culinary tourists, and Kentucky stands poised to serve them any number of dishes, drinks, and food traditions that are unique to the commonwealth.

Promoting the Mountains
Another area of focus for the department is promoting adventure tourism in eastern Kentucky to Europeans. Branscum says Germans especially love outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, and all-terrain vehicle trails. She points to Pikeville as a community that combines mountain hospitality with opportunities to zipline, horseback ride, and canoe.

With the decline in the coal industry, Branscum says domestic and international travelers can provide a critical boost to the region’s economy.

“We know there’s issues and things that we’ve got to overcome, but I think tourism can help do that,” says Branscum.

Efforts are still ongoing to conduct much needed renovations and maintenance to state park facilities in the state. Branscum says updated estimates put the price tag for those repairs at $300 million. She believes the park system will attract corporate money to help with that work now that state law allows public-private partnerships for such projects.

She also hopes legislation that gives Kentucky school districts incentives to delay the start of their school years passes the General Assembly this session. Branscum says that will enable young people to work longer at summer jobs at Lake Cumberland, the state fair, agri-tourism operations, and other attractions that depend on seasonal labor. She says it will also give Kentucky families more time to visit those destinations before schools reopen for the fall.

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Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the set behind her and the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.

Season 12 Episodes

Kinship Care Activist Katie Okumu

S12 E46 Length 26:27 Premiere Date 08/25/17

Photographer Carol Peachee

S12 E45 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/18/17

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

S12 E44 Length 28:28 Premiere Date 08/11/17

Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

S12 E43 Length 29:17 Premiere Date 08/04/17

Criminal Justice Reform

S12 E42 Length 28:08 Premiere Date 07/28/17

Kayla Rae Whitaker

S12 E41 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/14/17

Uncovering Bias in Preschool Education

S12 E40 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 07/07/17

The Latest Data on Kentucky's Kids

S12 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/30/17

Building Leadership Skills

S12 E38 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 06/23/17

The Ali Center's Donald Lassere

S12 E37 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 06/16/17

Improving Nutrition in the Daily Diet

S12 E36 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 06/09/17

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E35 Length 28:19 Premiere Date 06/02/17

Innovation at the Alltech Conference

S12 E34 Length 28:33 Premiere Date 05/26/17

Political Journalist Cokie Roberts

S12 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 05/22/17

2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

S12 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/12/17

Alison Lundergan Grimes

S12 E31 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 05/09/17

Sexual Trauma in the Military

S12 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/02/17

Foster Care

S12 E29 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 04/24/17

Justice Secretary John Tilley

S12 E23 Length 29:36 Premiere Date 04/14/17

Job Training in Kentucky

S12 E22 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 03/24/17

Kentucky Tourism

S12 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/24/17

Reducing Youth Violence

S12 E20 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 02/17/17

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S12 E19 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 02/10/17

Poverty in America

S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/03/17

Homelessness in Kentucky

S12 E17 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 01/27/17

Sadiqa Reynolds

S12 E16 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/20/17

Cory Jewell Jensen

S12 E15 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/13/17

Bill Goodman

S12 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/06/17

Promoting Health Equity

S12 E13 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 12/16/16

Kentucky's Teacher of the Year

S12 E12 Length 27:22 Premiere Date 12/09/16

Important Issues for Seniors

S12 E11 Length 28:20 Premiere Date 11/18/16

Nonprofit Organizations

S12 E10 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/11/16

Iris Wilbur and Colmon Elridge

S12 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/04/16

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E8 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 10/28/16

Activism Through Music and Art

S12 E7 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 10/21/16

Paducah's Merryman House

S12 E6 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 10/14/16

The Achievement Gap

S12 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/07/16

Discussing Domestic Violence

S12 E4 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 09/30/16

Musician Jon Secada

S12 E3 Length 29:13 Premiere Date 09/23/16

Playwright Mitzi Sinnott

S12 E2 Length 27:12 Premiere Date 09/15/16

FDA Chief Dr. Robert Califf

S12 E1 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 09/09/16

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Preview Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

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Kristin Ashford - Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Premiered On: 09/08/2017

Renee speaks with Kristin Ashford, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing whose research focuses on prenatal care and interventions aimed at preventing/ending tobacco use and illicit drugs. The program features a young woman who's participating in "Get Fit and Quit" recovery/smoking cessation program that is a partnership between the UK College of Nursing, Chrysalis House (a treatment center for women), and the YMCA. Part of KET's on-going initiative "Smoking and Health" funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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Premiered On: 09/22/2017

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Premiered On: 09/29/2017

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Gordon Hamlin

Premiered On: 10/13/2017

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Premiered On: 10/20/2017

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Premiered On: 11/03/2017

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Premiered On: 01/19/2018

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Gerald Smith

Premiered On: 02/09/2018

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Premiered On: 02/16/2018

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Premiered On: 04/06/2018

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  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

Premiered On: 04/13/2018

Renee speaks with Donna Pollard, a child marriage survivor and founder of Survivors' Corner, who has become the ambassador for changing child marriage laws in Kentucky with the passage of Senate Bill 48 that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29, 2018. SB 48 raises the legal age to marry to 18 in Kentucky with some exceptions.

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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

Premiered On: 04/20/2018

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Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections

  • Sunday January 8, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

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Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

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David Thompson - S12 E11

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Mitzi Sinnott - S12 E3

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

  • Friday November 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

  • Thursday November 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

  • Monday November 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Friday November 25, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
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Breast Cancer - S18 E8

  • Sunday November 6, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday November 5, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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