Spotlight Festival Shines on Lexington

by Nadia Smith

It’s $25 for a grounds pass at the World Equestrian Games or over $40 to see an event (not to mention $20 if you want to park). It’ll cost you at least $20 to see a concert during the Fortnight Festival, but for absolutely nothing you can see downtown Lexington put on a show every day for the next couple weeks. Concerts, shopping, live telecasts from the Horse Park and good food await those willing to venture just a few hundred feet from Transy’s campus.

The events for opening weekend included concerts by former “American Idol” contestant Danny Gokey and country music star Blake Shelton.

“Despite the dreary weather, people were already waiting on the courthouse lawn (by 5 p.m.) for the Spotlight (Lexington) concert that evening,” said junior April York.

“Everyone (in attendance) was very polite, and the mixture of locals with out-of-town guests was an interesting environment,” York said. “I can say without a doubt that I’ve never seen downtown Lexington so hopping. Most surprising to me was how many young children were out with their parents and grandparents at the events.”

The festival has a little bit of something for everyone in the way of entertainment. It includes jazz, country, blues, bluegrass, rock music and more, as well as a fashion show, dance performances and arts demonstrations. The festival closes with hip-hop artist Rob Bass (known for his hit with DJ E.Z. Rock, “It Takes Two”) and fireworks at the Courthouse Plaza stage.

Transylvania will also take part in Spotlight Lexington by working with the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau to provide a booth to assist tourists during their stay in Lexington and the surrounding area as well as introduce them to Transylvania University.

Dr. Tiffany Wheeler, a Transy education professor, has been serving on a host committee for the festival for three years as a representative of Transylvania. She said Transylvania wants to be a friend in the community and, as it is located so close to downtown, it makes sense to be a part of the festival.

“It’s a great opportunity for students,” said Wheeler. “For three weeks there will be something to do every evening downtown, and, best of all, it’s free!”

An interesting piece of the Spotlight Festival is the Kentucky Market, open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and featuring unique works of Kentucky artists. On the weekends the market has free arts and crafts activities for parents and children.

Fiber artist Justine Dennis was out last Sunday selling her one-of-a-kind hats, purses and figurines. Her pieces are formed through what she calls torsion sewing, a process by which she winds the sewing fibers into spiral bowl shapes and then pieces them together. She and her husband came from New Haven, Ky., for the opening weekend of the festival and will be at the St. James Court Art Show this weekend in Louisville.

Jewelry and accessory designers Mauricio Crane and Bradley Marlow will have their unique pieces of jewelry on sale from Thursday through Sunday throughout the festival. Crane showed off his favorite piece that was inspired by the French lace his mother left him, a beautiful but edgy necklace with large lace black flowers. Visitors to their booth are sure to find other interesting and artistic pieces to add to their wardrobe. Dru Perry, whose son Kaegan Perry attends Transylvania, was also at the festival with her unique, handmade wind art.

The festival is conveniently being held in three downtown locations — the main stage at Courthouse Plaza and another at Cheapside Park, with the Kentucky Market in Triangle Park. Wheeler recommended that students purchase an official Spotlight Lexington pin with which you can enjoy discounts at businesses like Kennedy’s Bookstore, LA Gourmet Pizza, Buddy’s Bar, Lucia’s Boutique and other downtown businesses, as well as free admission to Keeneland on opening day and on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the Fall Race Meet. Those who buy a pin will also be entered for daily giveaways and a chance to win a new Honda Accord LX. Pins are $5 and can be purchased at Lexington area Kroger stores.

For more information about Spotlight Lexington as well as a complete schedule of the entertainment, go to


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