It’s a phrase that sounds somewhat ominous; but on August 21, 2017, it’s one that will lend momentous notoriety to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, as that’s exactly what this somewhat ordinary little community will become. As the epicenter for the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse, Hopkinsville will allow observers an optimal viewpoint for this once-in-a-lifetime event as the moon slowly makes its way to cover the sun, drenching the area in utter darkness for just under two and a half minutes before light is restored when the path is reversed. The whole process is forecast to begin around noon and will last more than an hour, with darkness falling at about 1:24 p.m.
Young or old, avid astronomer or casual gazer, this is one phenomenon that’s certainly worth watching; and people are planning to take every advantage, booking up area hotels, buying tickets to eclipse-related events, and bringing the entire community an extreme amount of revenue by boosting tourism to astronomical levels. “We’re expecting around 100,000 visitors to our community throughout Eclipse weekend,” Solar Eclipse Marketing & Events Consultant Brooke Jung predicts. And those predictions mean major gains for the economy. “We anticipate that this will be a huge economic generator for our community and generate more than $30 million.”
Rather than being over-ambitious or seemingly over the moon, it’s a projection that appears spot-on, given the unique position that Hopkinsville claims on the globe. “As the designated Point of Greatest Eclipse, Hopkinsville is the point where the moon’s axis is closest to the earth, which makes us especially appealing to astronomy enthusiasts,” explains Jung.
Obviously, enthusiasts aren’t the only ones taking note, as the area has received reservations from people and officials all over the globe, a reported 38 states and 16 countries who all want to watch it all unfold. Included among their representation are crews from Time Magazine; the BBC; The Associated Press; The Wall Street Journal; CNN; CBS Sunday Morning; and the Chief Observer of the Vatican Conservatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno, as well as officials from NASA, who will be broadcasting live from the Point of Greatest Eclipse in Hopkinsville. Broadening the viewing audience, NASA and ASPSU will host a viewing event at Frontera Stadium including a live-feed online broadcast for worldwide wowing as well as a massive display playing out on the stadium’s scoreboard. Beginning at noon, a presentation will be given by members of APSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy to provide scientific and historical information about the sensational spectacle.
The whole of Trigg, Christian, and Clarksville-Montgomery counties will be getting in on the action, in fact, as local businesses, restaurants, and venues are going out of their way to make the event one to remember. Eclipse-inspired treats, eats, and even wines are being created to add to the fun, and the art community has been painting the town with moon madness of their own, putting their talents to work on everything from massive murals to bus stop benches.
“Everyone is extremely excited about this event because it’s effecting our entire community, providing a huge economic opportunity for our area, but even more importantly, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon that everyone will be able to witness right from their very own backyard,” says Bill Stevens, Executive Director of Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism.
Joining in on the fun is Altra Federal Credit Union in Clarksville, offering a prime viewing spot for the eclipse complete with complimentary eclipse glasses and the chance to win a commemorative custom jewelry piece specially created for the momentous occasion. Open to the entire community as well as Credit Union members, the jewelry raffle will award one lucky winner a “Corona” pendant made by Elliot’s Jewelers, its stunning setting of black onyx encircled by a corona-like band of cubic zirconia fashioned to replicate the halo of white light that surrounds the moon as it eclipses the sun. The numbered, limited edition pendant is engraved to commemorate the event and fashioned to command attention. For this civic-minded financial institution, however, it’s more than a marketing ploy. It’s a great way to invest back into their community, celebrate their members, and offer a reminder of just how special the area really is. “The eclipse is an opportunity for Clarksville to showcase the community and our local businesses to people who are coming here to watch this amazing event unfold, and it really is the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Altra Federal Credit Union Retail Market Manager Rose Melton.
“Our hope is that the eclipse will not only bring people now but will showcase our community and all it has to offer so that it will continue to be a destination for them in the future,” says owner of 8th Street Café and Main Street Tavern Paul Barnes. Situated in the center of it all in historic downtown Hopkinsville, Main Street Tavern is firing up everyone’s appetite for the phenomenal fun with two truly inspired additions to the menu—the Eclipseville Pizza and Burger. Loaded up on balsamic vinegar caramelized onions, crisp bacon, and blue cheese, they’re a total eclipse of flavors every bit as unique as the event inspiring them.
Taking their own bite of this fantastic phenomenon is The Place - A Local Eatery in Hopkinsville, staying open 24 hours to keep hungry gazers fed and delight their diners with an eclipse-themed menu of dishes that are blindingly delicious. “We’re blessed to be witnesses to this, so we want to celebrate is as much as we can,” says Dean Place, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife Myra Kaye.
The celebration is on at Casey Jones Distillery, as well, where a four day festival of events is planned to keep spirits high, including a daily schedule of concerts featuring the musical talents of local artists as well as hot air balloon rides, distillery tours and tastings, great food truck eats, and phenomenal swag from the gift shop to commemorate the eclipse. Letting their ‘shine really shine, the distillery will also offer a limited edition Total Eclipse Moonshine, specially created and trademarked to give eye-opening flavor to this amazing event. “We’re having fun with it—you can taste the eclipse and have either a partial or total eclipse anytime!” laughs Peg Hayes, who owns the distillery with her husband Arlon Casey Jones.
Toasting the celestial bodies at work, Beachaven Winery will be hosting “Blackout at Beachaven,” a truly toast-worthy event featuring live music, food, and wines—including a limited edition vintage called Blackout Blackberry, a delicious sparkling varietal with a fruity essence whose dark hue mimics the blackness of the sky as the moon makes its path across the sun. “We wanted it to be reflective of the fact that this is an cosmic event, which is why we chose to do a sparkling wine,” explains Louisa Cooke, who co-owns the winery with her husband Ed. “When Dom Perignon invented champagne, the French monk likened it to ‘drinking stars,” so we thought doing something bubbly would be evocative of the cosmos.” For Beachaven, the eclipse is certainly worth popping a few corks. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and we’re so lucky to have it happening in our own back yards! It will be a real opportunity to highlight Clarksville and show everyone what a great town we have here!” Over the course of their “Blackout,” the winery will also offer reserved spaces on their grounds for viewers who want to claim champagne-level seating.
Putting their acres of outdoor space to good use as well, Burdoc Farms will be going whole-hog with three days of festivities, using the eclipse to launch their inaugural Bluegrass Music Festival, which they hope to spin into an annual event. Beginning with family fun at noon on Saturday, a complete lineup of concerts and movies will play out each day, with food and beer trucks on site to keep everyone fueled-up for the main event on the 21st, when Burdoc’s position as the second-highest spot in Hopkinsville makes it the prime-time prime place to be. “It can’t be said enough that this is something that won’t occur again in any of our lifetimes, and we’re fortunate enough to be directly in its path,” says Burdoc Farms owner Sara Shepherd. “That’s a draw unlike any other; and for a community like ours, it’s a wonderful way to show new visitors who we are.”
With so much excitement surrounding the eclipse, Hopkinsville and the surrounding areas are fully focused on one major thing: reveling in the chance to show off their unique community and taking the chance to let their light shine.