National Kentucky Day is celebrated every year on October 19, and it recognizes the moment in history when Kentucky was approved into statehood. Rich in history and known as the Bluegrass State, Kentucky had its own share of ups and downs. But that didn’t stop the state from progressing and making a mark! National Kentucky Day is special not only because of the struggles the region faced but also because it was the first to enter the union among states west of the Appalachian Mountains. So, on this day, America celebrates Kentucky and its history with great zeal and pride.
History of National Kentucky Day
Kentucky is a place rich in culture and has been a region with massive settlements of varying cultures from across the globe. Archaeologists have discovered at least six cultures from Kentucky that spanned 13000 B.C. to 1650 A.D. This includes the Paleo-Indian culture, the Archaic culture, the Woodland culture, the Adena culture, the Mississippian culture, and the Fort Ancient culture. In 1650, the region saw white settlers and a lot of wars. Fights arose among Native Americans who wanted control over the “Great Meadow.” Tribes such as Shawnee, Cherokee, and Chickasaw could not reach a consensus over who gets to possess the land, and the only way to achieve control, according to them, was violence. There was no peace in the land even by 1750. But this time, however, the enemy was Britain.
Through 1750 and 1751, there were conflicts between the British empire and Native American nations. And then there was the French and Indian War in 1754. These outbreaks caused hindrance in the exploration of the region. And Dr. Thomas Walker and Christopher Gist continued to delay their expeditions to survey the land, hoping the fighting would die down soon. Daniel Boone visited Kentucky in 1767 and John Finley in 1769. These individuals explored the area, but an actual settlement did not take place until 1776. This was when James Harrod constructed the first permanent settlement in Kentucky, at Fort Harrod. Many settlements, such as Boonesboro, were established after this.
National Kentucky Day timeline
Harrodsburg, Kentucky’s oldest town, is established.
The territory officially becomes Kentucky County, Virginia under Governor Patrick Henry Jr.
Violent feuds occur among the eastern Appalachian Mountains communities of Kentucky.
Kentucky legalizes hemp.
National Kentucky Day FAQs
What is Kentucky famous for?
Kentucky is recognized for its unique culture, which includes horse racing, bourbon, moonshine, and coal.
What is the Kentucky state bird?
The northern cardinal is the state bird of Kentucky.
What is Kentucky's state animal?
The gray squirrel is Kentucky’s state animal.
National Kentucky Day Activities
Find out all about Kentucky
On this day, find out all you can about Kentucky. Read about its history, its culture and traditions, and some intriguing tales about its founders’ families.
Want to witness magical Kentucky? Plan a short vacation and visit the place to find out why it’s so special. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures.
Visit a museum
For an actual blast from the past, head out to a museum that honors the history of Kentucky. You could go with some kids and have them experience Kentucky's history with you at the museum.
5 Fun Facts About Kentucky
Kentucky’s highest point
The highest point is Black Mountain, at 4,145 feet.
The largest cave in the world
Kentucky's Mammoth Cave is known as the largest cave system in the world.
People vs. bourbon barrels
Kentucky has more bourbon barrels than people.
The oldest horse race in the world
The Kentucky Derby is the world’s oldest horse race.
The famous people of Kentucky
President Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky.
Why We Love National Kentucky Day
It represents a blast from the past
We love the day because it gives an overview of the history of how Kentucky attained statehood, and why the region is strategic to the U.S. In a way, the day revives the glorious past of the state every year.
The celebration is educational because it looks into the history of Kentucky, the wars that have been fought in the region, the state’s ascension to statehood, and its political importance. This information is necessary, especially for the youth.
It keeps traditions alive
The day not only revives the history of the region; it also gives life to and shines the spotlight on the traditions of Kentucky. And yes, Kentucky is rife with culture and traditions that make it super unique.
National Kentucky Day dates