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  If you’ve a whimsy to treat your family and yourself to a heartwarming get-together, here’s an idea to strap on for size. There’s possibly no greater collective pleasure (and bargain) than this year’s special Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Homecoming 2000.

  It’ll be held at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, South Wing B, in Louisville. The dates are February 5 and 6 and it’s open to the public from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children between the ages of 6 and 12. A child under 6 years of age is admitted free-the time in our lives when we’re so amenable to learning.

  Imagine the impressions a child will take home from a wonderland of arts and crafts: wooden trains and horses, bird-houses, Santa Claus collectibles-real made-at-home stuff, not what falls off the end of a long, impersonal assembly line.

  The dividing line between a child and a grownup has the rich possibility of being hardly recognizable, so adults will be forgiven for unabashed enthusiasm for the handcrafted work of more than 275 exhibitors from every direction in the Commonwealth.

  This year, many authors from the Kentucky Book Fair will be on hand with books about Kentucky, past and present. Writing has taken a proper place among the other crafts of a remarkable common wealth. There’ll be signings of first editions, a wide variety of cultural pleasures-gifts and keepsakes for every fancy-and children will have tailor-made educational exhibitions just for them.

  Children and grownups have a unique opportunity to see Kentucky and Kentuckians being their best and truest selves, not their cinematic, stereotypical, soap opera, and cartoon silliest. We allow ourselves to become Dukes of Hazzard and Beverly Hillbillies when we permit others to define ourselves even though we know better. Usually, it’s done in order to create blockbusters of vaudeville, violence, and value standing on its head. The way to perpetuate it is to think it’s funny and pay to not stop laughing.

  A day at the Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Homecoming 2000 can and probably will be memorable. Colors: everywhere. Sights: as refreshing as the seasons of centuries past and just begun. Sounds: pleasant and ripe for the taking. Conversations: imagine the possibilities.

  “What better way to celebrate the millennium than to bring back many of the wonderful craftspeople who have been part of The Market’s success and history for nearly 20 years,” says Program Director Fran

  Recently, when I gave a Kentucky Humanities Council talk at the Anderson County Middle School, I noticed a sign in the hallway: “Learning is a participatory activity.” That’s one of the best thoughts about Kentucky Crafted. It’s one thing to go to The Market to look and listen and chatter. It’s a better thing to desire to return home to pick up the crafting tool, to want to take raw material and fashion it into an individual creation-actually to achieve an upland of originality.

  Kentucky is alive and well. It has its problems, just as Hollywood and New York City have theirs. But there is more than one Kentucky Cycle. Even though the Kentucky Crafted probably won’t win a Pulitzer, it stands a very good chance of helping to break the cycle of negative thinking about a Common-wealth that has been stereotyped until it’s almost unrecognizable.

  Little by little, these perceptions are changing. Recently, a lady told me of her decision to leave Connecticut and move to Breckinridge County. Another told of moving from Pennsylvania to Harrison County. A couple from Chicago was in Boyle and Casey counties-said they were looking for a new home away from the third largest city in the United States.

  One of the many happenings that’s making a positive difference is Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Homecoming 2000.

See you there!

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