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16 Interesting facts about Lexington

How well do you know Lexington, KY? We’re bringing you some fun facts about the city and its history. If you’re a trivia master (or local enthusiast), give this a try.


If you think you already know everything about Lexington, think again — keep reading to become a true Lexpert. | Photo by LEXtoday

Did you know burgoo is actually made with squirrels + blackbirds?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there are plenty of interesting factoids to go around. As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of Lexington’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 16 interesting facts.

Fact 1: The J.M. Smucker Company building — aka the Jif peanut butter plant on Winchester Road — is the largest peanut butter-producing facility in the world. (WKYT)

Fact 2: Lexington holds a Guinness Book of World Records title for the largest gathering of people wearing hard hats — 2,136 people. The record was set at a UK men’s basketball game against Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena on Jan. 12, 2019. The hard hats were donated by local company Bullard.

A cup of burgoo on top of a Keeneland catalogue.

Introducing your winner, Keeneland Burgoo. | Photo by Becca Parington

Fact 3: Burgoo — a delicious + meaty soup staple found on menus around the city — was once made from blackbirds and squirrels. Thankfully, today’s version of the stew is made with beef, chicken, or pork. (VisitLEX)

Fact 4: Clark County, Lexington’s neighbor to the East, is considered to be the home of southern snack delicacy beer cheese. (VisitLEX)

Fact 5: Belle’s Cocktail House is named after notorious local madam Belle Brezing. Belle ran a high-class Victorian-era brothel out of the Mary Todd Lincoln Home + is considered the inspiration for Gone with the Wind character Belle Watling.

Fact 6: In 1958, Lexington became the first US city to implement an Urban Service Boundary (USB) — regulating that new development could only occur inside a designated area. The USB was created to protect Lexington’s lush farmlands and horse farms while minimizing urban sprawl.

Fact 7: Lexington is home to Transylvania University. Established in 1780, this college was the first US college established west of the Allegheny Mountains and the 16th college in the United States.

Fact 8: The First African Baptist Church — founded in 1790 — is the third oldest African American congregation in the US and the first established African American congregation in Kentucky.

A young girl standing in front of a large pendulum clock inside the Lexington Public Library.

Time keeps on tickin’ tickin’ tickin’. | Photo courtesy of @frankfortkyfavs

Fact 9: Lexington’s downtown public library is home to the world’s largest ceiling clock. The five-story pendulum clock was built in 2001 and depicts the history of the horse in Kentucky.

Fact 10: For whatever reason, it’s illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket in Lexington.

Fact 11: The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team was the first team in college basketball history to win 2,000 games.

Fact 12: In the late 18th century, Lexington was home to a civic leader by the name of John Wesley Hunt. During his lifetime, John became the first millionaire west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Fact 13: Anthony Philip Heinrich led the first US performance of a Beethoven symphony in Lexington in 1817.

Fact 14: Lexington was the first city in the US to launch a reenactment of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. It is performed downtown every year for Halloween.

Fact 15: The steam engine was invented in Lexington by Edward West in 1802.

Fact 16: Lexington is home to world’s first interstellar tourism campaign, sending a coded invitation to the TRAPPIST-1 solar system.

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