As the sport of catfishing grows, so grows tournament trails and events like Catfish Conference. Louisville, KY was the location of Catfish Conference 2017. It gave me an opportunity to visit the city and a few of its many attractions. Catfish was the theme of the conference, but history and culture are the theme of this great American city.
Louisville is one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains. It was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark. The city was named after King Louis XVI of France. Never mind its actual age, because today, Louisville is a modern American city.
As I entered the Blue Grass state, the Derby City was on my mind. Louisville offers plenty of interesting attractions, so, bring the family and see the sights depending on your own personal interests. There is literally something for everyone. Personally, I can’t think about Louisville without thinking about the Kentucky Derby and Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Both were on my list for my short stay in the city.
The Kentucky Derby Museum/Churchill Downs was the first stop on the agenda. The museum is adjacent to Churchill Downs, an amazing complex representing years of sports history. Imagine, the first race took place on May 17, 1875.
I recommend starting with “The Greatest Race.” It is a theater-in-the-round type of media event that tells the story of the Kentucky Derby. Participants set on swiveling stools while the story is told in greater than life-size proportions around the oval screen above the arena.
Watching the movie sets the stage for a 30-minute walking tour that reveals the history and pageantry of Churchill Downs Racetrack. Following the tour, you can leisurely explore two floors of family-friendly interactive exhibits. All this is included in the admission to the facility.
When I hear the name Louisville Slugger my thoughts drift back to my childhood. I fondly remember swinging a few in those days growing up in Kansas. My visit to Louisville gave me the opportunity to tour the factory where the legendary Louisville Slugger baseball bat is made and remember the baseball legends of my youth.
“Visitors can admire the world’s largest bat and discover a prehistoric baseball glove,” revealed Louisville tourism spokeswoman, Susan Dallas. “You can also count the home run notches that Babe Ruth carved into his Louisville Slugger, and hold the actual bats used by such baseball legends as Micky Mantle, Johnny Bench, David Ortez, Derek Jeter and many more past and present baseball heroes. Finally, visitors receive their very own baseball bat sample from one of the city’s most iconic attractions.”
I took Dallas up on one of her suggestions and took a few swings with one of Mickey Mantle’s bats. It felt good to be back in the batter’s box again.
Our next stop was the Muhammad Ali Center which celebrates the life and legacy of the world-class boxer. The award-winning museum is housed in a six-story multicultural center. Here too, I recommend starting with an orientation film. Take the escalator to the fifth floor for the video and then work your way back down to the entrance.
“The museum features exhibits spotlighting the six core values Ali strived to live by throughout his life,” offered Dallas. “They include Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Respect, Giving and Spirituality. Highlights include a mock boxing ring, Ali boxing memorabilia, a theater that screens a short film showcasing Ali’s life, and a full-sized boxing ring, where a large projector displays ‘The Greatest,’ his signature fight.”
I was highly impressed by the content of the many interactive displays that chronicle the life of Ali. You can spend as little or as much time as you want perusing the exhibits, many supported with historic video footage. Depending on your age, your visit will be either a walk down memory lane or an education related to the life of this incredible athlete and humanitarian.
As far as eating places, I hardly know where to start. Maybe you could take in a restaurant/bar on the famed Urban Bourbon Trail. As most folks know, Bourbon is a whiskey that has long been associated with Kentucky. The Urban Bourbon Trail consists of 34 bars and restaurants that showcase Kentucky’s best. You can also visit an actual distillery. There are several on Whiskey Row – Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Peerless Distillery and Angel’s Envy (the newest one to open).
Some of the Urban Bourbon Trail restaurants are located on Whiskey Row,” revealed Dallas. “They include the Bristol Bar & Grill, O’Shea’s Downtown, Sidebar @ Whiskey Row, Troll Pub Under the Bridge, Proof on Main, Jockey Silks, Down One Bourbon Bar and Doc Crow’s. All of these are good. Check them out and you can decide which menu sounds the best to you.”
The restaurant that caught our eye was Merle Haggard’s Whiskey Kitchen. We spotted it downtown on our way to the Ali Center. It had outside dinning and the place was packed. We decided that would be our lunch spot after our visit to the center. I will just say, it was great food and constant listening to Merle Haggard music. We left very content and rested for our visit to the Catfish Conference.
The Catfish Conference brought catfish anglers, vendors and media from all around the nation to see what was going on in the world of catfish. The first day of the two-day event was simply packed. It was elbow to elbow catfish enthusiasts, visiting booths, checking out equipment and viewing the catfish boats on display. By all reports it was an overwhelming success, and fodder for another story at another time.
I can truly say, between the Catfish Conference and the numerous attractions available in the Louisville area it was a trip to be remembered. Although the conference was my reason for being in Louisville, and it did not disappoint, I was taken by the atmosphere, friendliness and amenities of the city to the point that I definitely want to visit again. The truth is, you don’t need any other reason to visit, the city itself is reason enough!
For more information on Louisville visit the website at https://www.gotolouisville.com.
For more information on Catfish Conference visit their website or follow and like them on Facebook.