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Step into Spring in Kentuky   by Heather Davis


From its sprawling bluegrass and gently sloping hills to the vast fields and meandering trails filled with newly budding wildflowers,Kentucky is a natural wonderland in the springtime. Add in the state's famous bourbon, horses, music and crafts, and you have a one-of-akind destination, perfect for groups itching to get out and shake off the doldrums of winter.

The Bluegrass State welcomes several new cultural and arts centers this season, which are ideal settings for group tours. And, as always, the state is filled with arts and crafts events, sunny street festivals and wildflower excursions this time of year, so there is something for everyone! So here in Ali's hometown in November. In addition to its visitor exhibits and galleries, the 93,000 square-foot center is intended to be an educational and communications institution, featuring classrooms, an archival library and an auditorium. The center will seek to share Ali's ideals on personal growth, humanitarianism and his desire to bring the peoples of the world closer together through respect, hope and understanding.Groups can schedule guided tours, which include a box lunch on-site, as well as itinerary planning assistance.Thanks to the work of the African American Heritage Foundation, Louisville will also now have a permanent space devoted to the culture, history and heritage of African- Americans throughout the Louisville region and southern Indiana. Located in an old trolley barn, the new Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage celebrates the cultural, historical,political and artistic contributions African-Americans have made to the region.Visitors will be encouraged to participate in interactive exhibits, take in a concert, play or poetry reading, or trace their roots in the history and genealogy research center. The facility will also feature studio space for students and artists, as well as a gift shop.

The Walden Theatre will have a busy spring season:they will host their annual Young Playwrights Festival March 2-4, which features the very best works from their playwriting classes, followed by the annual Shakespeare Festival in mid-May.

The new $34 million Luther F.Carson Four Rivers Center for the Performing Arts is now open in downtown Paducah. The 1,800-seat concert theater and facility is designed to accommodate a wide variety of entertainment and cultural programs.Upcoming events include the Broadway production of STOMP!, Mar. 21-22; an Annual Wine Tasting & Auction, Apr.18; the Paducah Symphony Orchestra,May 5; and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, May 20. While in Paducah, head to the oldest standing structure in the city, which houses the River Heritage Museum. The museum has opened its first phase of exhibits, which tell the story of the four rivers in the region.

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