We came to Kentucky hoping to find and bring home some country ham, good bourbon and a regional soda pop called Ale-8-One.
We found all that and this, too: Tobacco and guns.
Kentucky is the United States’ second biggest tobacco-producing state, trailing only North Carolina. While browsing various wares this afternoon at the ginormous flea market known far and wide a Court Days, I spied this tobacco-drying barn in nearby Preston, Ky.
After learning what it was, I started seeing air-curing barns like it all over the countryside. They have these little doors on the side to allow air flow. By the way, Kentucky has the third highest rate of smokers in the country.
As for guns, 48 percent of Kentuckians own guns, according to the Washington Post, and I think I saw half of them wandering around the grounds at Court Days where an estimated 130,000 people swarm into little Mt. Sterling for the weekend (for comparison, 42 percent of Minnesotans report owning guns and 20 percent of Illini do so).
Apparently, it’s common practice to sell and trade guns at Court Days, so gun owners looking to trade up carry their guns slung over their backs or holstered to their belts to show them off and attract potential buyers. Among the funnel cake vendors and rib eye sandwich stands, I saw little knots of mostly men chatting about caliber and features while throngs of people mingled past.
I didn’t get any pictures of that. I’m not that bold.