Review of Ham Days in Marion County – Day Trip!
This year was our first time experiencing Ham Days in Marion County.
Ham Days is a festival held the last full weekend in September each
year, and is listed as one of the top-ten events for Kentucky. It started about 40 years ago with only six hams, and today, Ham Days
serves over 6,000 pounds of country ham. Aside from the country ham
breakfasts, ham lunches, and ham dinners, Ham Days also has a Market
Place of shops, an Arts and Crafts area, a Main Stage with live music,
carnival rides, beauty pageants, contests, car and motorcycle shows,
an auction, a 5K race, the Pigasus Parade, and more. We couldn’t wait
to check it out!
On our drive down to Lebanon, we enjoyed the scenery with a lot of
horses and cows to keep the kids occupied in the car. We also went
through historic Bardstown which is very cute! We passed by My Old
Kentucky Dinner Train, My Old Kentucky Home State Park, several
wineries and distilleries. I would have loved to check out Maker’s
Mark since it was so close, but with a full day, I didn’t think the
kids would tolerate the tour well.
We got there at 10am on Saturday and parking was tough. We were able
to find street parking for free not too far from the main street, but
we saw people walking long distances when we left several hours later.
At 10am, there were already a lot of people in their spots for the 1pm
parade, and a LONG line for the Call of the Wildman cast (Animal
Planet show) autograph signing that was to follow the parade. My kids
and I hit the Market Place first, then the carnival rides. Very few
vendors take anything but cash, but there is an ATM behind one of the
banks in the festival area. There were a nice variety of shops, and
most were very good prices. The carnival rides are $2 each, and there
are rides for kids and adults. The workers were all very nice, and the
rides looked clean and safe.
After the rides we headed over to Main Street to get our spots for the
parade. I packed a lunch for us so we could eat cheaper and more
conveniently, but I wish I had gotten the pork sandwich or brats –
they looked good! While it wasn’t a hot day, we started to cook
outside waiting for the parade to start, and I wished I had sat on the
other side of the street in the shade of the buildings. My kids had
hats and long pants to block the sun, but next year I will be bringing
sun block! We also had some trouble with bugs bothering everyone in my
area, so bug spray will be a must for next year too. The parade
started and we enjoyed watching lots of beauty pageant winners,
tractors, local businesses, law enforcement, Kosair volunteers, and of course, Turtle Man.
After the parade, it seemed like mass exodus of people moving from Main Street
to the Call of the Wildman autographing area. The line must have been
a mile long before the cast showed up to start signing their gear. A
mom I had met earlier in the day said her husband went to stand on the
autograph line as soon as they arrived at the festival while she took
the kids around. I opted to not stand on the line for hours with two
small children, and instead took my kids up to the “Official Turtle
Man Gear” tent next to the front of the line. As we bought our $20
t-shirts, Turtle Man and the whole crew showed up to take their spots
at the table, so my kids got to stand a couple feet from them. Even
though they didn’t get to talk to them, they enjoyed watching them
show up and wave to the crowd.
We hit the Arts and Crafts area and Children’s Area on our way out,
but by 2 pm it was very crowded and not much fun for a mom to try to
keep an eye on her kids. Note: Ham Days had port-a-potties conveniently located
throughout the festival area which we used several times, and they
were fairly clean when we used them.
We headed back home through the beautiful scenery, but after a full
day of excitement and sun, my kids were asleep before we made it back
to Bardstown for some Baskin Robbins or a treat at one of their cute
cafes. Ham Days was fun, but for next year my must have list will
include: plenty of cash (very few will take credit, and shop prices
were great), wagon/stroller for the kids (and purchases!), chairs for
the autograph line and/or parade, bug spray, sun block (although I’ll
sit in the shade next time!), and drinks and snacks (I’ll be sure to
buy ham, but having your own snacks for when the funnel cake line is
too long is helpful!). Can’t wait for Ham Days 2013!
By guest contributor: Caryn