Decades-Long Tradition Continues  Boyd County Fair Kicks Off this Weekend

Decades-Long Tradition Continues

 Boyd County Fair Kicks Off this Weekend

Grace Phillips

The Ashland Beacon

the browders

The summer of 1991 was the first time Boyd County had a county fair in more than three decades.  Thirty-two years later, the dream that began in a borrowed field is a reality and growing every year.  This year’s Boyd County Fair kicks off with a flurry of activity this weekend, August 18th & 19th and continues next week on August 22nd – 26th

Ellen Keaton, Fair President explained, “We always start with a pre-fair celebration the weekend before the fair starts. This year is no different.  We are so excited to kick off our fair with one of the newest crazes around…a Quarter Auction.  It is going to be a wonderful night of fun.  Admission is $5 and gets you a bidding paddle.  You will bid from one to four quarters on an item, raise your number paddle, and if your number is drawn…you win the item for small change.”  She went on to say that this is the short version of how the auction works and more information is on their website.  Also on Friday night, there is the Speed Show in the horse arena. 


Saturday, August 19th is packed with events running from 10 a.m. until midnight or later.  Events include: Open Youth Livestock Show, Dog Show, Craft and Vendor Show from 2-8 p.m., the Boyd County Fair Open Horse Show and Tristate MX Motocross.   That is just the beginning!

The full fair, complete with carnival rides, will begin on Tuesday, August 22nd and run through Saturday, August 26th.  The events get bigger and bigger as the week progresses.   There will be livestock shows, horse shows, a children’s pageant and FTC Wrestling during the week.  New this year will be Carter County Axes—an axe throwing event, Peanut the Clown and his balloons each day, and The Barker Family Animal Show and Petting Zoo on Saturday. All these special events are included in the fair admission price as well as the carnival rides. 

“We are so excited about our entertainment lineup this year.” Keaton stated, “Thursday, Gospel Night, features the Browders.  They are rapidly becoming one of Christian music’s most acclaimed groups.  The family band’s album, Time Machine, yielded a record-breaking seven #1 hits.  The current CD includes the #1 song, “You’re Not In This Alone” and the current single, “When God Says Wait”.

Keaton continued, “We are very excited to bring Bluegrass music back to the fair this year with special guest Hammertowne on Friday night.”  Hammertowne creates their hard-driving sound with one foot in the traditional arena and the other in the progressive arena, which is reflected in their original songs they write and perform. The music continues on Saturday with Lee Dean as Frank Sinatra and Elvis and Maddox Hale.

Now, if music or animals are a little too tame for you…the last two nights of the fair bring all the thrills and excitement you will need.  The Demolition Derby crashes into the motorsports arena on Friday night followed by a second night of Tristate MX on Saturday.

“The last event of the 2023 fair will be where the first one was held…in the horse arena featuring the King Brothers Rodeo.” Keaton continued, “The King Brother’s Rodeo is the oldest rodeo company in America and now spans four generations.  It is two hours of thrills, danger and laughter.  It’s crazy to watch the riders come out on those huge bulls just hoping to hold on for eight seconds…very few make it.   I guess maybe I SHOULD say the riders have to be crazy to even try!” 

The Boyd County Fair is a 501c3 nonprofit that is run totally by volunteers.  Brenda Phelps told us that one of the biggest hurdles the fair faces each year is a lack of volunteers.  “To put on a fair of this size, it takes so many people.   We struggle each year to have enough volunteers in place to make the fair flow smoothly.”  Christy Utley who has been with the fair for the past seven years went on to say, “It’s a crazy week and everyone is tired at the end of the day, but it is also very rewarding to see all the smiling faces and a successful event.”  If anyone is interested in being a volunteer for a day or the entire week, they should call the fair at 606.585.0514.

The fair could not operate each year without the donations from local businesses.  Be sure to check out the complete list of sponsors on the fair’s website, and let them know you appreciate their support of our youth and community. 

The fair gates will open at 4 p.m. and the rides at 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.  Admission to the fair this year is $10 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and $12 on Friday and Saturday with a $1 per car parking fee. Due to the ride manufacturer’s guidelines, children under 36” tall are unable to ride and will be free.  The Boyd County Fair is a pay-one-price fair meaning all events and carnival rides are included with paid admission to the fair.    

Friday and Saturday nights typically have the largest attendance.  Please plan to arrive early. Complete information on all events can be found at or follow them on their Facebook page.

One Dollar Bill and One War Hero The Story of Vinson Layman

One Dollar Bill and One War Hero

The Story of Vinson Layman

Gwen Akers

The Ashland Beacon


From a small-town welder to a WWII veteran who loved to dance and an enduring Ashland business owner, Vinson Layman was a hero of our area.

Born in 1925, with three brothers and two sisters, Layman joined the workforce at the young age of 17. Layman was training to be a welder and working in an Ashland factory. He had never left Ashland, let alone the country, but in his lifetime, he would end up traveling to fifteen countries—some more than once–all recorded on a dollar bill he kept with him at all times.


After his vocational training, Layman went to work as a certified welder in an Ashland factory located where the Texas Roadhouse is now. Layman, only 17 at the time, made many lasting connections–as he watched as his fellow coworkers were drafted and became part of the war effort in their own ways.

“He was walking up the steps–my dad was a small man, and they called him Pee Wee, the boss did. They yelled down and the boss said, ‘Pee Wee, why haven’t they drafted you?’ He said [Vinson Layman], ‘I’m only 17; they can't draft me!’ The boss said, ‘Well if you're only 17, you can't work here!’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m the only certified welder you got. If you lose me, you gotta shut down!’ So, the boss went back to his office, and forgot about what he said,” explained Richard Layman.

After his 18th birthday, he joined the Army, assigned to General Patton’s third squadron in the tank division. Here, he spent most of his time putting his welding experience to use working on and repairing tanks.  After a year of training in the USA, he was shipped to Europe. From here, he had some of the most important experiences of his life.

Layman almost drowned in the Danube River after watching two girls jump in and swim across. Convinced he could too, he jumped in–only to find the swim much above his head. It was only on his third time up for air that he finally touched the bottom and was able to fight his way to the top.

He suffered through appendicitis in France. During his time in the hospital, he would sneak out at night to go dancing and learn the jitterbug. He was also knocked out while fixing a tank when hidden artillery shells inside deployed, knocking him off the tank. Thankfully, both times he recovered fully.

During the Battle of the Bulge, Layman was caught in a valley piled high with snow. The tanks were trapped in the snowstorm, but thanks to Layman’s ingenuity and quick thinking they were able to keep moving.

“My dad told him, he said, ‘If I had some low hydrogen well rods here, I think I can get out.’ My dad always laughed about that,” explained Richard Layman.  The captain quickly radioed in this idea and took credit for Vinson Layman’s ingenuity. With his help, the crew was able to get out of the snow drift and keep moving.

This story would become an integral part of the Layman family—almost as much as the iconic dollar bill he recorded all his travels.

“Years later, we were at a family funeral. He had a nephew that was a genealogist who researched the family. Our family was originally from Germany. He came over to me, and he said, ‘You know your dad was a war hero?’  I laughed. I thought, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘He got those tanks down that valley and where they can go back on into Germany.’ I thought, ‘that's probably right,’ because I had never thought of that before. I just laughed when he told me that,” remarked Richard Layman, "He picked up on that right away.”

Layman was also one of the few soldiers that entered the concentration camps in order to liberate them. The destruction, horror, and despair of those sights stayed with him for the rest of his days.

“I would add that he loved his country. He was proud to have helped in the war effort. Very proud of that. He went on to start a business, and I worked for him. He was the best man I ever knew,” expressed Richard Layman.

At the end of the war, Layman returned to the States and to his hometown of Ashland, Ky to start his own enduring business in his backyard that is still now a landmark of Ashland–the Ashland Fabricating and Welding Company Inc.

“What I'm getting at is he loved life and he wanted every part of it,” detailed Richard Layman.

On his return home, Layman joined the Army Reserves and put his mechanic experience to use. He fixed whatever he could, and helped in every way he could. He never stopped working for his country, making every day one he was proud of serving.

From almost drowning to witnessing the horrors of the concentration camps, to the surrealism of going from a small-town welder to a soldier on the front—Vinson Layman was a hero. His story, and those of many others, will remain in infamy as we remember the sheer bravery, perseverance, and loyalty our country has built.

Riding with a Smile at the Age of 4: Aubrey Reeves

Riding with a Smile at the Age of 4: Aubrey Reeves

Gwen Akers

The Ashland Beacon


Dogs are known as a man’s best friend, but what about horses? For 4-year-old Aubrey Reeves, horses are definitely her best friend.

Raised on a farm in the beautiful countryside of Boyd County, Aubrey Reeves is just four years old but takes riding lessons, shows horses, and raises farm animals of her own. She has never met an animal that is not her friend, and through this connection, Aubrey has found a passion of her own in the Ohio Horse Park.

Aubrey’s grandpa, Buddy Patrick, has raised Aubrey. He has been riding horses for about six years and could not speak more highly of his granddaughter–from her bright smile and nature to her ability to make friends wherever she goes with people and animals alike. Aubrey helps her grandparents around the farm, whether it is feeding horses, milking cows, or caring for their animals. Aubrey is always on the case.

“We try to [travel], to get her out and let her experience a little bit of everything; see the world. When I got her she was really bashful. Now she doesn't meet a stranger–she goes to feed stores and everybody knows her,” explained Patrick with a smile.

Aubrey has been riding since she was 1 ½ years old, and just this past year began showing horses. She has taken part in Leadline and Barrel Racing and plans to keep taking lessons at the Ohio Horse Park and grow in her equine skills. Aubrey’s first riding lessons were a Christmas gift from her grandpa, and she has hit the ground galloping ever since.

The community at the Ohio Horse Park has only continued to grow Aubrey’s love of riding, as well. From making friends, having new experiences, and trying out new riding techniques, taking lessons at the Horse Park has greatly impacted her life.

“There are all kinds of girls over here from 12-18. They take care of her. This is a real good place,” expressed Patrick.

Patrick noted that the girls and trainers at the horse park take great care of Aubrey, and are a built-in friend group for her.

Not only has Aubrey made lasting friends, but she has also grown close to her trainer. Katie Osterbaan has known Aubrey for two years and has been her primary instructor for riding lessons. Osterbaan has been teaching at the horse park for close to a year with 25 years of experience with horses. She has grown close with Aubrey during their lessons and time together.

“It started out that we rode together, and now she's finally gotten to the point where she can ride by herself. We teach her to ride and hang out. We talk a lot. She likes to talk, tell her stories and sing to me,” commented Osterbaan.

During her lessons, Aubrey takes the horses through obstacles and practices walking and trotting with them–all with a smile on her face.

“She never meets a stranger; she’s always that happy,” commented Patrick.

From caring for her horse, taking care of her favorite pigs, and milking her cows, Aubrey continues to not only brighten the days of all those around her but of her animals as well. While she does not have a riding horse of her own at the moment, Aubrey loves to ride at the Horse Park and care for her colt, Dylan.

“My other favorite part about horses is because I get to trot,” explained Aubrey grinning from ear to ear after finishing her lesson for the day.

From Aubrey’s story, the hope is that you will be inspired to write a story of your own. Whether you are looking to further your equine skills, or make lasting friends, the riding lessons, shows, and experiences of the Ohio Horse Park are perfect for you. Those interested should check out the horse park location in Franklin Furnace.

Osterbaan declared, “Don’t be afraid to come take riding lessons and just ask for help. You'll never know until you try it. And once you try it, most of the time you're hooked on it.”

Those interested in learning more about Aubrey’s story and her animals should check out her farm’s Facebook page at the Back 40 Farm.

A Dream Come True Cade Potter’s Banjo Birthday

A Dream Come True

Cade Potter’s Banjo Birthday

Gwen Akers

The Ashland Beacon


There is nothing like walking into a room full of warm smiles from the people you love, and there is nothing that will ever compare to the absolute surprise and joy of Cade Potter and his friends and family when he walked into Giovanni’s this Thursday to a bluegrass band fulfilling his birthday wish—to hear someone play the banjo. 

This Thursday was Cade Potter’s 24th birthday, and it was a moment that spoke volumes about the family and love our area is built upon. Cade Potter was diagnosed with Down syndrome at a young age but has never let this get in the way of him making lifelong connections and friends.

“I'd met Cade’s parents and him even before his dad started playing here–just as customers. I always took a liking to him not because he was special or that he was different, but because he's just the sweetest kid in the world.” expressed Jesse Hunt, owner of Summit Giovanni’s and close friend of the Potters.

The whole idea was concocted by Hunt after Cade invited him to his birthday party.

“He invited me to come to his birthday party, and I said, ‘Of course. I would drop my prom date for you!’ I was joking with him. I said, ‘I'll tell you what, I'll come if you'll tell me what you want for your birthday.’ He said, ‘All I want for my birthday is for somebody to play the banjo,’” described Hunt.

After making a few calls, Hunt was able to organize an exciting event for the young man. The party featured the Frog Pond Bluegrass Band, including one genuine banjo player. A table was set up for Cade’s family and friends up front to provide the perfect view of the band. 

“He plans his birthday a year in advance,” explained Rick Potter, Cade’s father. “He picks out a theme that he wants. And actually, his birthday party at the library is a race car theme this year, but he really enjoys bluegrass music.”

Hunt has known the Potter family for many, many years, first as customers and then as musicians who often took the stage at Giovanni’s. After retiring from AK Steel, Rick Potter and his band have played several times, and he and his family have grown close to Hunt.

“It's just awesome what Jesse did. It’s incredible. Things are not the best economically right now, and for a guy to go and do that just for somebody in the community…that means the world that somebody would do that,” explained Potter.

It meant the world for the family and the community to have such a wonderful evening all for Cade—especially when Cade was given the chance to hold the banjo himself. Never in my life have I seen a smile as true and beautiful as that.

“Jesse is doing it right; he is very caring, thoughtful and efficient. He wants to get them in there. He wants people in the community to see the talent that is around here,” commented Potter about the party.

Hunt was very moved when Cade first walked into the party and embraced him as Cade realized what Hunt had done for him. The band played Happy Birthday as he walked in—and every person in the place was grinning from ear to ear.

“We opened the new location in December, and it's been well received by the community. We've been blessed to be able to change some lives by doing it–including Cade’s. I think this is something he’ll never forget,” commented Hunt.

The party was certainly something Cade will never forget, as well as an event that truly showcased the compassion, kindness, and camaraderie of our area.

Sandy’s Racing Brings Big City Energy with Small Town Hospitality to The Tri-State

Sandy’s Racing Brings Big City Energy with Small Town Hospitality to The Tri-State

 Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

Construction is in full swing at Sandys Racing Photo by Sasha Bush

          Rebirth, according to the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, is defined as a renewed existence, activity, or growth. There is no greater physical manifestation of the word rebirth than that of the uncapped growth we witness daily happening right here in Boyd County.  New businesses, new job opportunities, and new recreation to occupy our time are being introduced to us almost daily. One such business is about to change the face of Boyd County forever. Thanks in part to Revolutionary Racing, Boyd County is on the brink of opening its doors to one of the most unique entertainment experiences that this area has ever witnessed.

              Construction has been in full swing with crews working day end and day out to bring you an entertainment experience not only driven by historic racing machines but also serving as the nation’s newest quarter horse racetrack. Sandy’s Racing and Gaming promises to be a world-class facility that will bring with it memorable races, rodeos, livestock shows, family festivals, and other special events. This state-of-the-art facility will be the Tri-State’s newest and most exciting entertainment destination the state of Kentucky has ever seen.

     With this massive 74,000 square foot build underway, Sandy’s Racing invited media and special guests out to take a first look at the progress that has been made.  A total of 40,000 square foot has been dedicated to gaming space. Within that gaming space, Sandy’s Racing will start out with a total of 672 HHR machines, which stands for Historic Horse Racing Machines, with plans to expand that number to 750 within the first three months of opening. With so many HHR machines, there is sure to be a game that everyone will enjoy. Among those will be fan favorites such as Waken Bacon, Wheel of Fortune, and Buffalo Gold just to name a few.

Sandy’s Racing will feature both smoking and non-smoking areas to game. The non-smoking area will consist of 190 HHR machines and has its own dedicated HVAC unit to ensure that no smoke can get within the confines of the non-smoking area.  These historic horse racing machines will bring with it a new age of producing races and entertainment to our area. Sandy’s Racing will also house three cinema-sized screens, which will be used to watch the horse races and other sports.  In addition, two stages will be used for live entertainment.

Located at 10699 U.S. 60 Ashland, Ky 41102, in the old Sears building of what is now known as Camp Landing-The Entertainment District, Sandy’s Racing will redefine the face of horseracing and gaming as we know it.  “We march to our own beat. We’re a gaming parlor where the horses dash; the games, cash, and drinks splash. We’re the place where locals can escape the everyday and tri-staters feel at home. The place where the bourbon flows, toes tap in unison to live music, and hands high five in the sports book when the Wildcats are covering. And when it’s post time… WATCH OUT.  Our OTB gets wild when the horses hit the stretch. Sandy’s has big city energy with small time hospitality. Adrenaline is often served next to a good burger and fries. So, grab your adventurous spirit and head on over.” claimed Sandy’s Racing website.

Sara Ann Marlow, Sandy’s Racing Player Services Manager, led small groups of media and special guest on a tour throughout the facility.  Marlow stated, “We (Sandy’s Racing) are really excited to be able to bring so much to this area in terms of entertainment and jobs. It makes us happy to be able to not only bring jobs to the area but to also support local businesses.” One such business will be local cigar shop, Fat Ash Cigars. Fat Ash Cigars is proud to be able to partner up with Sandy’s Racing to bring the area’s best cigars to this area’s biggest and most iconic entertainment destination yet.

Rocky Adkins, senior advisor to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and former Democratic floor leader in the state House of Representatives, was also present for this first look tour. Adkins believes that this 60-million-dollar investment has now turned into a 75-million dollar investment.  Sandy’s Racing is just the beginning, and this 60-million-dollar investment is the  tip of the iceberg.  The sky is the limit on what this area can bring in terms of other industries and businesses. “This is going to be a very enjoyable destination. It is a place that will undoubtedly be ran in a first-class way and will bring with it a real uplifting energy. To be able to see real progress taking place here right before our eyes is going to create a real momentum for this area. The only reason anyone should ever leave this area is because they want to and not because they feel that they have to.” Adkins explained.

With the addition of over 200 permanent jobs brought to this area, the economic impact alone is astronomical. It is estimated that Sandy’s Racing will generate $11 million in state tax revenue and will put Boyd County on the map. The sheer volume of patrons who will come from near and far to enjoy the entertainment that Sandy’s Racing provides will not only generate revenue for the Sandy’s Racing but for all surrounding restaurant businesses. As tourists come in to play, they will need to stay in our hotels, dine and shop at our stores. All of this puts money back into our economy and makes this area thrive and prosper.

Sandy’s Racing is set to have its soft opening sometime in October. Shortly after that, construction on phase two will begin. Sandy Ridge will be Kentucky’s first quarter horse racetrack and equestrian center and is set to be built on 182 acres adjacent to the gaming facility.  Sandy Ridge hopes to host its first quarter horse race in the Spring of 2025.