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Play in the past with trips to Kentucky nostalgia destinations

While in the midst of today’s high-tech life, nostalgia can provide a comforting reminder of a simpler time for those who lived it, and a fun introduction to things past for younger generations. Some businesses across the state provide delightful opportunities to step back in time.

Take Witt’s End Candy Emporium in the historic northern Kentucky river town of Bellevue. Just follow the smell of popcorn and cotton candy into a tin-ceilinged, hardwood-floored “yesteryear” store, where dozens and dozens of glass jars bursting with colorful candy line custom-built shelves and counters. Remember BB Bats, Bit-O-Honey, Mary Janes, Moon Pies, Pixie Stix, and wax lips? Old-fashioned barrels overflow with even more candy; peach baskets brim with jacks and yo-yos; and coolers hold glass-bottled soft drinks like Dad’s Root Beer.

“Everybody’s a kid when they come in, whether they’re adults or children,” says owner John Witt. “The actual kids go, ‘Wow!’ For the grownups, it’s a real trip down memory lane.”

Witt’s End Candy specializes in old-fashioned birthday parties “unplugged,” with candy, crafts, and a wrapped goodie for the birthday child.

In another trip back in time, watch men playing “rolley-hole” marbles as they have for four generations—more than 100 years—at the Monroe County Marble Club Super Dome in Tompkinsville. Using handmade flint marbles, these local men have won national and international titles.

In Danville, a nostalgic treasure fills a restored 1939 WPA (Works Progress Administration) building. Home to some 200-plus dollhouses and their tiny furnishings, the Great American Dollhouse Museum recounts the nation’s social history—in miniature. Lifelike displays depict how people lived in days gone by, what they wore, and how they washed clothes, cooked, played, and shopped.

In a favorite display, a 1930s housewife takes time out from her chores to listen to “soaps” on the radio in her kitchen.

“People who lived during that time remember the pre-TV era,” says Lori Kagan-Moore, museum director, “and young people remember grandma’s kitchen.” (See February 2015 Worth the Trip for more on the Great American Dollhouse Museum.)

Come September, see mules making molasses the old-fashioned way on the mule-drawn cane mill at Old Mill Park in West Liberty at the 45th annual Morgan County Sorghum Festival. Enjoy three days of Kentucky mountain heritage and family fun with a parade, around 100 arts and crafts booths, great food and live music, this year’s festival September 25-27.

When time-traveling wears you out, experience some quirky but quaint Americana as you put your feet up in 1930s style in a cozy concrete teepee at Wigwam Village Inn #2 in Cave City.

Time traveler: nostalgic videos

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