Ashland: Just a hole in the wall

June 18, 2016

by Nikki Gates

What does Ashland have to offer you?

Cliche small towns in the United States, from the movies always pull at our hearts. We naturally wonder- do these places really exist? The high school sweethearts that grow old together, the Friday night football lights are the biggest deal every week, and the friends that stay close even as they grow old. Welcome to small town Ashland, Kentucky, a town that is quickly over looked, and those who live there- never seem to leave, but it has more to offer than you believe. Any quick glance at little Ashland Kentucky, and most will turn their nose… It is a place that will have to grow on you. The best advice I can give anyone though- ask the locals, they know the secrets. Located in the northeastern corner of Kentucky, a state often over looked in the United States, is where little Ashland resides.

Let us start with some of the most well known things about small town Ashland:

  1. Originally it had been known as “Poage Settlement” or “Poage’s Landing” – And to this day the locals still celebrate this with the annual festival that takes place every September. It is a time for the locals, and the occasional passer-byes to stop and enjoy this downtown festival. The festival typically is a 3-4 day event held in the midst of downtown Ashland. Completed with live music, vendors, food and an assortment of activities each day and evening. It is a way of bringing people together, and making every one of all ages feel connected.
  2.  Locals love gatherings, as you see in another widely known festival – Summer Motion. Typically occurring the first week of July ending with a huge firework display taking place upon the Ohio River. Yet again, another wonderful festival bringing the locals to socialize around music, food, and connections to the small town.
  3.  Three words… Friday. Night. Lights. This is when the fall season has set in, the hoodies are out and the helmets clash on the field. Never in a million years, could I imagine an entire town would support a high school football team- till  you go to an Ashland Tomcat game. High school football games will bring the spirit of pride back to you, even if you didn’t even attend Ashland. You will leave the game with a sense of pride for players, you probably don’t know.
  4.  As fall hits, and the leaves change colors don’t drive through this town without stoppng to embrace the colors of the natural beauty. Chliche as it sounds, the leaves changing colors in central park is a sight one cannot pass up. It is a natural beauty that so many stand in awe of, as they should. Often times we forget with the hustle and chaotic lives we live to stop and just look at the nature around us. For little Ashland, in the heart of the town, it’s hard to forget the simple things in life. So take a stop, stretch legs, enjoy the colors of the leaves and the crunch of them beneath your feet, and reminisce on a simpler time in your life. Trust me, it is worth it.
  5.  As winter hits, Ashland continues to give a sense of being connected, of family and relationships. If you pass through Ashland between Thanksgiving and Christmas do not, I repeat DO NOT pass up the Christmas lighting display held in Central Park. Whether you want to brave the chill of a winter night, and walk around and enjoy the lights with laughs and loved ones; or you want to enjoy the drive around the park listening to the radio playing all the cheesy Christmas carols. The Ashland park lights are not something to miss during the winter months.

Oh, the food… always the food.

Of course, when people travel; especially to small little towns, almost always the first thought on anyone’s mind is food. It’s our guilty pleasure, we let go of our most recent diet and dive contently into all the food options we are offered (it is not an actual vacation unless you indulge a little bit, right?)

  1. Crisp’s dairy treat (just thinking about this place, makes my mouth water). It is a local restaurant although it is slightly outside the city limits of Ashland; it is worth the extra five minute drive. They are a family ran business, who are typically open from about spring until the midst of fall. All their ice cream is fresh, and absolutely delicious. But their food, from the deep friend onion rings, to the soups and chili dogs. It truly is a taste of familiarity, and of comfort from Ashland.
  2.  JJ’s Restaurant, just down the road really from Crisp’s. You can typically find a lot of the elders, and pass-through truck drivers swapping stories of older days here. Although it may look like a bit of a hole in the wall. JJ’s is the place where you will find the taste of southern food, the taste of family and sip the enjoyment of coffee with friends and reminisce on the little things. Honestly, it is nothing fancy by any means but certain worth the little bit of time to fill up on comfort and memories.
  3. For those with a sweet tooth (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t have a sweet tooth), I highly recommend Sweet Caroline’s. Although, the location might send some to question, it is worth the trip to the hospital. No, it isn’t deadly, or going to send you so far in a sugar coma that you’ll be stuck there for eternity. But it is located there, almost as a pick me up, almost as a reminder of just how small this town truly is. Although, it is located a place naturally we try to avoid on travels, this one is hiding one of the sweetest gems this area has to offer. However, don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself.
  4.  Showing, the natural small town simplicities is something Ashland, as well as its locals have truly mastered. On any Saturday morning you can certainly find a plethora of locals enjoying the company of each other, cracking jokes and telling stories. Jolly Pirate’s is a favorite for anyone, of any age (I mean, who doesn’t love freshly made donuts?) Their assortment of flavors and sizes isn’t huge by any means, but you are sure to find something for everyone.

1000778_4486046288467_1879665132_nAshland, although tucked away in the northeastern corner of Kentucky, is quite a gem. It is not a place many would expect to say their next big adventure is too. But its a hidden gem; a place where you remember the “simpler life.” Take a trip to Ashland, enjoy the memories it will bring you of your childhood, and set you on your path of redirection, with clarity and peace.

Nikki Gates

By Nikki Gates

Some days she wakes up uncertain of what life has in store for her. Her response to the uncertainty is this, "Drink your coffee, look the next challenge in the eye, wink and smile as you take the next step of your adventure you call life."


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