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Kentucky Main Street Conference Coming to Covington

The Kentucky Main Street Program will host its annual conference in Covington April 23-25.

Nationally-known speakers and a variety of sessions will highlight the event, coinciding with the program's fortieth anniversary. Main Street programs lead downtown development strategies and creative placemaking opportunities.

In Kentucky, the program is operated by the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office and was created in 1979 to reverse economic decline in central business districts in the state.

The group claims $4.5 billion in public-private investment since then.

Conference themes will include practitioner skills, diversity and inclusion, rural vibrancy, creative placemaking, smart cities, environmental sustainability, and other topics that align with the KYMS mission. Sessions will take place in downtown Covington venues.

The conference is presented by Renaissance Covington in partnership with Friends of Kentucky Main Street, the City of Covington, BLDG Refuge, Hub+Weber Architects PLC, Pikeville Main Street Inc., Cincinnati Bell, and Kentucky Proud. The conference is open to local Main Street directors, board members, supporters, elected officials, community leaders, and the public.

“Kentucky Main Street is the oldest statewide Main Street program in the nation and we’re proud to celebrate our longevity and goals for the future with the Covington community,” said Kitty Dougoud, KYMS Program Coordinator. “Covington is also the perfect venue, having been honored with a Great American MainStreet Award in 2017 by Main Street America.”

For information and registration, visit

Registration begins at 8 a.m. daily. Opening day highlights will include guest speakers David L. Morgan, retired KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer, founder of Kentucky Main Street; and Irv Henderson, Main Street America board member. Presentation of the Kentucky Main Street Awards will take place at 5 p.m. followed by a reception.

A keynote presentation by Charles “Chuck” Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, will take place at 8:30 a.m. April 24 at Madison Event Center. Strong Towns supports a model of development that allows America's cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient by encouraging incremental change within existing infrastructure. Marohn is a civil engineer and author with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). In 2017 he was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen.

At 4:30 p.m., winner of the 13th season of the Food Network series Food Network Star, Grayson native Jason Smith will serve as judge for the “Bourbon, Bacon & Butter” cooking competition featuring regional Main Street winners competing for top honors. All entries are required to have at least two of the three featured ingredients, provided by sponsors Woodford Reserve, Broadbent Foods, and Boone Creek Creamery. Flour is provided by Weisenberger Mills.

At 5:30, a “B-Line Bumble, Bourbon Tasting + Walking Tour” will be led by local mixologist Molly Wellmann.

The conference will conclude at noon April 25. Additional conference speakers will include A. Robert Jaeger, president of Partners for Sacred Places; Savannah Barrett, director of programs for Art of the Rural and the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange; and more than 20 other subject matter experts addressing conference themes. Some sessions offer AICP credits.

Hotel Covington is the conference host hotel. Conference registration is $100 for all three days, $35 single day, or $10 for the Strong Towns presentation only, plus an additional $35 for the bourbon walking tour. For more information, contact Kitty Dougoud, 502.892.3605, or visit

-Staff report

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