Kentucky’s state dance is alive and well in Owensboro at the Lanham Brothers Jamboree; Hopkinsville is home to the nation’s largest producer of bowling balls, at Ebonite International; the Falls of Rough and Rough River Dam are a vacationer’s paradise; and a Danish artist brings Forest Giants to the giant forest at Bernheim in Bullitt & Nelson counties.
Clogging has a special place in the history of Kentucky, and plenty of fans who enjoy learning the style of dance today.
“Clogging is a very old dance,” says clogging instructor Barry Lanham. “It originated in the Appalachian Mountains and is the official state dance of Kentucky. It’s been around for hundreds of years but is a mixture of African, Irish, German, and English step dancing. There are taps on the shoes, on the toes and on the heels, and I love the aspect of using your feet as an instrument.”
Ebonite Bowing Balls
The world’s largest manufacturer of bowling balls is located right in Kentucky. Ebonite International of Hopkinsville produces up to 3,000 bowling balls a day.
“The one huge aspect about bowling that most people don’t realize is that it’s very important to have your own bowling ball,” says Rich Hanson, International Sales Manager for Ebonite. “You can go bowling with your friends recreationally and you can just pick a house ball off the rack. But it’s not custom fit to your hand. That ball’s not designed to have any performance characteristics to it.
“Having your own ball, one that fits your hand properly, makes the game so much easier,” Hanson continues. “When a ball doesn’t fit your hand, it feels heavy because the holes are too big or too small, but having that ball that’s custom fit to your hand makes the game so much more enjoyable. Here at Ebonite international that’s what we do. We design bowling balls that help bowlers get better.”
Hanson explains that Ebonite produces different brands for different purposes. Hammer and Track are high-performance balls designed for top competitive bowlers. Columbia and Ebonite are brands that offer different levels of performance from recreational bowlers on up. Bowling is a popular sport worldwide, and the equipment has evolved over the years.
“I didn’t start bowling until I was 19 and I was in the Air Force,” says Mitch Beasley, Tech Services Director. “I was in Germany. That’s where I learned to bowl. So I learned with a urethane bowling balls. They were a huge advancement compared to rubber and plastic that was made before that. I’d been bowling about four years when reactive resin balls came out and that totally changed the game because their performance was so much higher than urethane was.
“The cores were very simple back then,” Beasley adds. “And then you started learning you could make the cores heavier and the metal make different shapes inside the ball. They performed more. Then you started putting pieces on the side of the cores and then you started getting more performance. Ebonite’s evolved constantly to try and stay on the top and be the leader in the industry as far as performance and technology.”
Ebonite has been located in Hopkinsville for more than 50 years, and generations of family members have worked for the company. “Ebonite means a lot to the Hopkinsville community,” says Hanson. “We’ve created a lot of jobs for the community. I think it means a lot [to the community] to have a company that’s been here for this many years and that has that tenure of employees who know they have security. Every day they get up and they know this company’s been here and this company’s going to be here for a long time.”
Forest Giants at Bernheim Forest
A new art installation at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is gaining a lot of attention.
“90 years ago, when Isaac Wolf Bernheim gifted this land to the people of Kentucky, he wanted it to be a place where people could come and reside in nature with art,” says Visual Arts Manager Jenny Zeller. “For our 90th anniversary, we wanted to celebrate that, and so we commissioned Thomas Dambo, internationally renowned recycling artist, to come to Bernheim and build three giant sculptures inspired by this landscape.”
Rough River Dam State Resort Park
The Rough River Dam Reservoir in western Kentucky was originally built for flood control in the 1950s. But now, the scenic lake is a draw for tourists and new residents alike.
“I would say that Rough River Lake is the ideal lake for people who want to be close enough to home where it’s not inconvenient but far enough away that you feel like you’re getting away,” says Charlie Corbett, Land Developer with Patriots Pointe Custom Homes. “We’re an hour to Bowling Green, an hour to Owensboro, an hour to Elizabethtown. From my home to the airport in Louisville is 90 minutes, so we’re out in the middle of nowhere but we’re close. When you get here, it’s a different world.”