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Our Town: Columbia, Kentucky

In this edition of Kentucky Life’s Our Town series, host Amy Hess visited Columbia, Kentucky, the home of Lindsey Wilson College in Adair County.

Adair County is an agricultural region with dairy and beef farms along with corn and soybean operations making up a large part of the economy. Its location in scenic southern Kentucky puts it close to outdoor recreation, like fishing at the Green River Reservoir. But there’s more than just the landscape that makes Columbia a special town.

“People here are loving, caring people,” said Robert Flowers, retired CEO of the Bank of Columbia. “Whenever there is a family that has a problem or has a tragedy, the rallying around that family is just incredible and I think that’s what makes me so proud to be a part of this community.

“The artisans that we have in Adair County just some very, very skilled and talented people,” Flowers adds. “We’re proud to show their wares.”

One of these artists is Henrietta Scott, owner of Highland Raku Studio & Gallery, which is housed in a building that was once an old country store. Scott creates pottery in the style of Japanese raku.

“We’ve had this business for 15 years,” says Scott. “We do traditional raku pottery and we’ve been perfecting this glaze for quite a number of years.”

Scott has created a collection of horsehair pottery featuring silhouettes of horses.

“I hand paint [he horses] with underglazes that are fired into the piece. I feel that this is my contribution to Kentucky. I am a Kentucky native and all of my work as you can tell here represents my state.”

Other designs incorporate leaves from oak trees that are native to the area. Scott’s husband makes lids for some of the pottery using native wood.

Another craftsman creating treasures from local resources is Danny Reeves of Farm2Funiture. Reeves collects reclaimed wood from old houses and builds timeless furniture.

“I got the idea to see if homeowners would give me their old buildings and I would make some furniture, and voila! Farm2Furniture started,” says Reeves. “I have a dining table built from a 1902 farmhouse in the Adair County community. It was a partition wall in this old farmhouse and it turned out to be American chestnut.” American chestnut trees were nearly eradicated by a blight in the early 1900s.

“That’s what Farm2Furniture is about,” Reeves continues. “Building unique, one-of-a-kind [pieces] out of woods that can’t be bought anymore. Sometimes those old homes can produce thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of good, marketable woods to be used for furniture.”

For the outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Holmes Bend Marina on the Green River offers a variety of options.

“We’ve built cabins here on the lake and there’s a beautiful campground at the top of the hill,” says Kelly Culdwell, General Manager of Holmes Bend Marina. “We’ve got horse trails and of course the hiking trails. Kayaking’s getting to be a big thing here on the lake. We have fishing, fishing boat rentals here at the marina. We offer houseboat rentals. It’s just a good time for a family vacation.”

About 20 miles southwest of Holmes Bend Marina is Pumpjack Offroad Park, offering even more opportunity for adventure.

“We have 1250 acres of open trails and rolling hills,” says co-owner Scott Corbin. “There’s creeks, there’s fields, there’s just so much to do.”

ATV trails are one of the big draws, but horseback riders, hikers, and the Lindsey Wilson cycling teams also make use of the extensive trails in the forested southern Kentucky hills.

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2019, which originally aired on May 23, 2015. Watch the full episode.