Owsley Fork Lake – Berea’s Main Water Reservoir

Owsley Fork Lake is a picturesque lake in Berea, Kentucky. It’s surrounded by natural beauty and recreational opportunities for various kinds of outings. The water that fills the lake comes from springs and rain collected in the nearby 1300-acre drainage basin. It produces over 650 million gallons of water annually.

Why is Owsley Fork Lake picturesque?
Owsley Fork Lake is picturesque because it has a naturally beautiful green hue. It’s surrounded by natural beauty and recreation opportunities for various kinds of outings, such as walking trails and picnic areas. Not to mention that it’s a man-made lake, so you can enjoy seeing all the unique features like the dam.

The lake sits on three sides within a wall of mountains, and it is stunning in nearly every season. In the summer, deep greens are beautiful, as are wildflowers in the spring, and the mountains are magnificent during the fall with brilliant hues or when covered with a blanket of snow.

What are some recreational opportunities for various kinds of outings?
Exploring the trails around the lake is a great recreational opportunity for all kinds of outings. It’s surrounded by nature, so hikers can enjoy walking in the woods and seeing all the wildlife they find. There are also picnic areas available for people who want to bring their own food. If you prefer to just sit back and relax by the water. The lake is also ideal for kayaking and canoeing with easy access for loading.

Fishing is easily accessible at Owsley

What about fishing?
The weeds on the lake get thick around the banks, so it’s best to fish from the dam or a boat of some sort during the height of summer. Other times in the year the lake is accessible from many areas, especially when the water is low.

There is access to a gravel boat ramp and The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife states the lake is accessible by any light trailerable recreational boat. Only a trolling motor may be used on the lake, and there are generally fewer than a half-dozen boats on it at any one time.

The lake is full of bluegill, red ear, and green sunfish. Crappie and Large Mouth Bass are also common catches at Owsley. Catfish are mostly caught near the dam in the deeper water.

How old is Owsley Fork Lake?
The Owsley Fork 1300 acre basin was purchased after 1970. The Owsley Fork lake is now 151 acres with a surface area of approximately 2700ft and it’s an average depth of about 10ft. Over 30,000 customers depend on the reservoir as their primary water source.

How does the water find its way to the lake?
The 1300-acre basin is linked to the greater 4900-acre watershed controlled mostly by Berea College Forestry. There are several natural springs in the area that also contribute to the water supply.

Who manages the water in this area?
The lake is situated on land owned by Berea College and is virtually surrounded by the college forest. The lake water itself was controlled by Berea College Utilities up until the 2000s when The City of Berea acquired the rights by way of the Berea Municipal Utilities.

How can you help protect our environment by volunteering or donating to organizations like Friends of Berea College Forest, Inc.?
Friends of Berea College Forest Inc. is a non-profit conservation group whose members are dedicated to the restoration, preservation and conservation of the Forests of Berea College. It was established in 1984 for educational purposes in support of activities on the forest properties owned by Berea College. You can help with these efforts by donating or volunteering your time.

You can learn more about this organization on their website



Owsley Fork Lake is waiting with an incredible natural beauty that will make any outing unforgettable and while you are in Berea be sure to check out our many shops, restaurants, bike paths, hiking trails, and theater.

Darrell Harrison plays Elwood P. Dowd in Mary Chase’s family comedy HARVEY. Performing here with John Harter who plays Dr. Chumley.

For the past month, Harvey has been rehearsing at the Spotlight Playhouse and it is amazing how a play that was written in the 1940s still has relevant wisdom.

The play is based on a humorous and far-fetched concept, but Mary Chase does not let the absurdity of the comedy diminish the show’s core values of kindness, family, and truthfulness. All qualities desperately needing attention in today’s chaotic atmosphere.

Harvey tells the story of a man whose best friend is an invisible 6 foot 3 rabbit that only he can see. The titular character is Elwood P. Dowd, and when we meet him he is taking care of his sister with the help of Harvey.

Elwood’s sister, Veta, is constantly worrying about what other people will think of her and tries to hide the family’s imperfections from visitors. The play highlights how damaging keeping up appearances can be for a person.

Sibling affection wins the day,

Elwood, in his signature suit and hat, is a renowned socialite in his town. However, when Elwood’s family discovers that he has been talking to what they think is an imaginary rabbit they send him off to Chumley’s Rest home for the mentally ill.

The kind and inviting Dr. Sanderson wants Dowd to feel comfortable at Chumley’s so he agrees to speak with him and try to get Elwood to realize that his friend isn’t real. This comically backfires when Elwood presents himself so well that Dr. Sanderson suspects the sister, Veta, must be the ill one and has her committed.

The comedic part of this play lies in the fact that Elwood’s family is so invested in getting rid of Harvey they lose track of what’s important, while all Elwood wants to do is take care of his friends and family.

The entire cast is phenomenal, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing these characters now. Come see this heartwarming and humorous play Sept 3-18.

Austin VanWinkle plays the kind-hearted Cab Driver as he explains that being crazy may not be so bad.


Myrtle Mae Simmons – Lydia Escobar

Veta Louise Simmons – Jennifer Escobar

Elwood P. Dowd – Darrell Harrison

Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet – Sydney Garrett

Ruth Kelly, R.N. – Angel King 

Duane Wilson – Caleb Kingston 

Lyman Sanderson M. D. – Edwin Tait 

William R. Chumley M.D. – John Harter

Betty Chumley – Letha Hembree 

Judge Gaffney – Isabel Escobar

E. J. Lofgren – Austin Van Winkle


Hiking in Berea during the fall provides an opportunity for a new experience and great scenery. Here are three reasons why you should pack up your gear this fall and head out on a trail: 1) Fall colors provide incredible views, 2) The weather is perfect- not too hot or cold so you can enjoy all day outside, 3) There are several things to do at night to round off your day of enjoyment.

1) Fall colors provide incredible views

Beauty can be found even in the roughest terrain.

Fall is in the air. The leaves will be slowly turning orange, red, yellow, and brown. Some will fall to the ground while others will fight to stay on their branches for just a little bit longer. Nature’s fall show is always stunning!

The colors in the Berea area are often incredible when they change. Depending on the weather, the colors may be vibrant or subtle, but this year we have hit our rainfall goals fairly well, so the chances are leaning to vibrant. Fall is a great time of year to hike because many native trees put on their show during this time. And even if the trees aren’t changing color yet, there are still some pretty views to look at. After all, hiking is still fun even if there aren’t any colorful leaves on the trees.

2) The weather is perfect- not too hot or cold so you can enjoy all day outside.

Fall hiking conditions are their absolute best! The temperature is just right, not too hot and not too cold. This makes it the perfect weather for a hike in the great outdoors. Plus, you won’t have to worry about constantly wiping sweat off of your brow or constantly bundling up when it’s freezing. The climate is just right so you can enjoy your hike all day. On top of all that, with the fall foliage at its peak, you will never see a more gorgeous sight.

3) There are several things to do at night to round off your day of enjoyment.

The Spoonbread stage is always loaded with entertainment. (Left – JT Gilbert, Joe Anglin, Right – Doug Thomas. Behind instruments are Mr. Seals and Mr. Wagers.

Forget about the drive home after a day of hiking. Not only will you have plenty to look at during your hike, but there are things to do when you get back to town too. Live Music performances, shopping, and food are available this fall at the Spoonbread Festival. The Spotlight Playhouse has performances every weekend this fall including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Descendants: The Musical, Bayou, and Harvey. From the upscale Boone Tavern to the casual Dinner Bell, great food is always in supply in Berea.

Enjoy the great outdoors this autumn! No matter where you live, there are some pretty views just waiting to be seen, but I encourage you to take the trip to Berea for its ample supply of trails and fun. So grab some friends or family members, pack up your gear, and get outside before winter starts to creep in. You won’t regret it. And remember, don’t forget the camera!

Hembree Haus Fall 2020

Who decorates for fall, and do you do it before Halloween or in November? This is a real question that I have pondered for years. Eventually, I landed on a routine at Hembree Haus and we have quite a bit of fun with it. I know there is a range of opinions on this subject, but at times like this, I remember what a crass old man told me once. “Opinions are like butt holes, everybody’s got one.”

Our fall decorations will go up this week or next and like many busy families, I am not always the quickest at taking things down. Case and point, I’ll be removing the American flag-themed bunting I hung in July to hang my fall decorations.

I start with our front yard and set up my happy and friendly scarecrows, straw bales, assorted fall gourds, and flowers. In October I add the Halloween decorations with bats in the trees, spiders, ghosts, and other happy haunts. Nothing overtly gross or gory and that’s it. The first week of November Bing Crosby, Kelly Clarkson, and the Jackson Five climb back to the top of my playlists and we decorate for Christmas. We are among those people that completely skip Thanksgiving decorations and treat it more like Christmas Dinner #1.

What are your fall decorating tips and traditions? Let me know and I’ll share them on BereaOnline.com. Save your Christmas decorations for another day, but anything Halloween is fair game. I look forward to your sharing.

Berea, Kentucky is known for its arts and crafts, but it also has plenty of good food to offer visitors. While the Berea food offerings are plentiful sometimes the portions are not, so the next time a big craving hits you, here are the top places to pig out in Berea.

1. The Smokehouse Grill – Love them or hate them, buffets are the ultimate way to pig out and the Smokehouse Grill has been satisfying even the hardiest eater for nearly two decades. Owner’s Patty and Terry Cheeks are not shy with a buffet offering of over 20 items, including all you care to eat soft-serve ice cream and other yummy desserts. For under $15 you won’t break the budget for your indulgence, but I wouldn’t place the same confidence in your belt.

Brad Agee is ready for some great fish at the Dinner Bell.

2. Dinner Bell (Fish Fridays) – In addition to the Smokehouse Grill, which also has all-you-can-eat fish on Fridays, The Dinner Bell joins the list. Dinner Bell serves up wholesome southern favorites with home-style cooking. It also features a nice store as you enter the door for convenient shopping. The locally owned and operated Dinner Bell is a favorite among the Sunday after church crowd and an off-the-Interstate traveler’s favorite that will fill you to the gill with fish on Fridays.


Letha Hembree and Steve Moss celebrate a cousin’s reunion at Papaleno’s Pizza in Berea.

3. The Wagon Wheel and The Mountaineer – Although this might sound like the title of a Western it is in fact two of the most wholesome pizzas available in Berea. Apollo’s Pizza in the Artisan Village lives in the tourism heart of Berea and features the gargantuan 20″ Wagon Wheel pizza available with a range of toppings and will provide pizza overload for even the greatest pizza fan. If Apollo’s Pizza lives in the tourism heart then Papaleno’s Pizza lives in the tourism head of Berea and shares a block with the Boone Tavern Hotel. Papaleno’s largest pizza comes in at 16″, but what it lacks in size it makes up in substance. A 16″ Mountaineer with pepperoni, Italian sausage, beef, black and green olives, mushrooms, onions, green and banana peppers is enough to satisfy a wide range of pizza connoisseurs.

Pigging out in Berea is possible and these top places will satisfy even the hungriest of eaters. After a day at work, a day at play on Berea’s plentiful trails, or an evening out catching a show at the Spotlight Playhouse you can be assured that from all-you-can-eat buffets to big, delicious pizzas, there’s something for everyone here.

Thinking of another extra-large meal I missed, send me a message and I’ll be sure to try it. – chad@chbs.com

It’s a myth that only highly intelligent people are creative. In fact, research shows that once you get beyond an I.Q. of about 120, which is just a little above average, intelligence and creativity are not at all related. That means that even if you’re no smarter than most people, you still have the potential to wield amazing creative powers. So why are so few people highly creative? Because there are bad habits people learn as they grow up which crush the creative pathways in the brain. And like all bad habits, they can be broken if you are willing to work at it.

Here are 8 simple steps to help you achieve something new:

– Prioritize your time wisely – Find out what really matters to you by asking yourself what have been doing to make your’s or someone else’s life better. Then do at least one thing to move closer toward your goals, today.

– Use praise instead of criticism – If you criticize yourself or others for not being creative a natural defensive will kick in and you are less likely to try something new. Praise creativity even when it doesn’t end up as well as you hoped.

– Learn to focus – Everyone is creative but some people are more focused. If you want to be creative in a certain area, focus your energy on it and let the ideas flow.

– Question assumptions – Most of us never question why we do the things we do. Questioning assumptions is at the heart of creativity. If you can learn to ask questions, you’ll be healthier and more likely to find a solution.

– Stop trying to predict the future – There are no facts about tomorrow so it’s impossible to predict what will happen for certain. It will limit your creativity to try and do that.

– Don’t waste your time – If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, stop doing it. That doesn’t mean stop living but rather spend your time only on the things which make your life better.

– Keep a journal or a sketchbook with you at all times even if it’s a phone app – Everyone has the ability to be creative, but it doesn’t always come out when you need it so have something ready. I personally use a voice recorder on my phone that later converts the speech to text. (http://otter.ai)

– Go for a walk – Your subconscious mind is very powerful and sometimes all you have to do is clear out the mental clutter by taking a walk. Our bodies are wonderful machines that feel relaxed when we go for walks. Your mind will follow your body’s lead and open up to creativity.

Creativity is something that everyone possesses, but it gets crushed by bad habits. The good news? It can be broken if you’re willing to work at it and follow these 8 simple steps.

Once Upon a Mattress
Once Upon a Mattress – Spotlight Acting School

Parents should make sure their children act in school plays because a new study has found acting may have academic benefits. The research led by Professor Linda Espin from the Department of Psychology at the University of Sydney showed that students who acted in school plays had significantly higher marks than students who did not.

The study also found that the academic performance of the actors was likely to be higher across all subjects as opposed to just English or Drama. The results have been published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology.

420 Year 12 students at a single, unnamed, public high school in New South Wales volunteered to participate in the study, which looked at the impact of acting in a school play on academic performance. Each student was asked to complete an assessment before their final year English elective course began and one month after it finished.

The students were broken into three groups – those who acted in their high school play, those who did not act but had attended the play, and those who did not participate or attend.

Salem’s Daughters – Spotlight Acting School

The students were asked to answer questions on the English coursework they had completed in their final year of high school, including the essay question and major pieces of written work due for assessment. These results were compared against each other to determine if there was any change in academic performance.

Frog and Toad Kids – Spotlight Acting School

The analysis showed that the students who acted in a school play had significantly higher marks than those who did not act or even attend.

“This research provides evidence that acting, and being involved in theatre more broadly, has academic benefits,” said Professor Espin from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Education & Social Work. “As we continue to build the evidence base, this research encourages us to remember that not only is theatre a relevant and engaging area of study in and of itself, it also has an important role to play in education across disciplines.”

Spotlight Acting School offers year-round opportunities for students to engage in theatre and add to their academic résumé. The Spotlight staff members have always expressed the belief that their programs help students and it’s great to see the clear connection between performing arts and academic achievement, particularly in a time where there has been so much focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects.

To get your student involved with Spotlight simply visit their website at http://www.spotlightactingschool.com or call 859-661-0600 to inquire about enrollment.  

Kristi Miller
Kristi Miller performs with Yogi Brown and Phil Malicote in 2010

The Spoonbread Festival is returning to Berea in 2021 and with it, the Stage is once again set for some good music. Musicians scheduled to appear included Kristi Miller, Blind Ricky, Elvis Cocktail, Paint Creek Band, Bourbon Branch, Branch Water Kin, New Developments, Silver Creek Band, Call to Post, and Little E.

Each year, The Spoonbread Festival attracts a wide range of artists and styles from gospel to bluegrass, rock, and more. This year the roster includes traditional bluegrass as well as performers who blend styles with other forms such as country or pop.

The 25th Annual Spoonbread Festival will take place September 17 through 19 in Berea at Memorial Park. The weekend’s performances are scheduled for the following dates and times.

FRIDAY – Sept. 17

Spoonbread Entertainment in the Early Years 2003
Spoonbread Entertainment in the Early Years 2003

4:00-5:30 PM Kristie Miller with Storytelling (POP)

6:00-7:00 PM Blind Ricky (Bluegrass)

4:00-5:30 PM Elvis Cocktail – Derek Isaacs (Rock)

7:00-10:00 PM Balloon Glow (Berea Community School) (Paint Creek Band Playing Live Music)

SATURDAY – Sept. 18

1:00-2:30 PM Branch Water Kin (Bluegrass)

3:00-4:30 PM New Developments (Jazz/Funk)

5:00-6:30 Silver Creek Band (50-60’s Rock)

7:00-9:00 Bourbon Branch (Country)

SUNDAY – Sept. 19

12:30-1:30 PM Call to Post (Gospel)

2:00-3:30 PM TBD

4:00-CLOSE Little E (Elvis Gospel)

Spotlight's production of Dracula: The New World 2019
Spotlight’s production of Dracula: The New World 2019
Monster Mash 2020
Monster Mash 2020

Halloween preparations are already underway at the Spotlight Playhouse where shows auditions begin Sunday. This year the Playhouse will be presenting three plays and a Monster Mash festival. The first play is Legend of Sleepy Hollow and follows the antics of the sheepish Icabod Crane as he tries to win the hand of Katrina Van Tassel. All is seemingly well until a ghostly apparition makes a rather timely appearance… coincidence?

The second play is of a lesser know origin and hails from the Voodoo regions of Louisiana and is aptly named Bayou. This story revolves around the mystical creature know as Le Serpent. A snake in its natural form, but posses the ability to mimic any creature it chooses. The plot follows some children who decide catching the famed monster would be heroic and set out on a hunt.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Bayou are performed together as two one-acts with an intermission between them. Together they are being called Two Legendary Haunted American Tales. One ticket grants access to both performances and the total show is set to run about 2 1/2 hours.

Monster Mash 2020 Live Music
Monster Mash 2020 Live Music

The third play is a children’s musical entitled We Are Monsters. The play follows a group of children as they stumble into the realm of monsters only to find the monster performing a musical cabaret. By the end of the show the Vampires, Werewolves, Goblins, and more welcome the children and they join in on the fun. Filled with catchy tunes and a host of adorable little monsters this is the cutest show of the season.

The Monster Mash is a full day of Halloween fun and will feature live music, vendors, food trucks, costumes, competitions, ghost stories and will be anchored by a Cabaret packed with songs and scenes from our favorite Halloween-appropriate shows.

Auditions for Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Bayou are this weekend on Sunday, Aug 29 at 5:00 pm. There are no costs to join this production and the entire rehearsal schedule is available online. All ages are welcome to audition and children will not be held past 9:00 pm regardless of what the schedule says. For more audition information visit https://www.thespotlightplayhouse.com/2021/08/29/auditions-for-the-legend-of-sleepy-hollow-bayou-the-chilling-tale-of-le-serpent-sunday-august-29-500pm/

The Spotlight Playhouse Halloween Schedule:

Two Legendary Haunted American Tales – Oct 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23

We Are Monsters – Oct 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31

Monster Mash – Oct 30 (preview Cabaret on Oct 29.)

Tickets are not yet available, but you can watch the http://www.thespotlightplayhouse.com website as more information is released. 

Berea like many cities across the US is experiencing a change in living styles. One of these changes comes by the way of a detached ADU or an Accessory Dwelling Unit. Detached ADU’s are not a new concept entirely but are a modern adaptation of the “in-laws” quarters or the above garage apartment.

The idea has exploded across this country yet only a handful of cities have taken up on allowing them, and Berea is one of them. Berea is working on updated rules to govern these living spaces with clear guidelines. A quick call to the Berea Codes Office was greeted with kind reception and solid knowledge about the ADU developments.

Currently, there are a couple of detached ADU’s in Berea that are connected to the main structure by a breezeway. This is a convenient way to access both the main house and the extra room, whether it serves as a bedroom, extra sitting room, or a fully functional separate living space. One thing to keep in mind is that your local zoning laws do apply to ADU’s so the concept is more for letting that college-age child have their own space or keeping a parent close by for care without necessarily “moving” them out of their own space. If you are set on being a landlord then you best avoid R1 zoned areas.

There are prefabricated or modular ADU’s available to fit almost any situation and many resemble the tiny homes getting so much attention on TV. Regardless of how the ADU is constructed, it must meet Kentucky’s guidelines for a liveable space. Don’t go out and buy a storage building and think it is going to straight away pass for an extra bedroom.

Another place ADU’s have seen popularity is in the Airbnb market. This use is not quite the same as renting to someone for a permanent residence. It will require a conditional use permit, so it will take a little effort to achieve, but in a tourist-friendly town like Berea you are not blazing a new trail and there are plenty of good folks at City Hall to help you. I am working on another article about the ups and downs of being an Airbnb host, so look for it in the near future.

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a great way to provide extra space without having to build an entirely new house. These units are regulated by the city so it’s important that you check the laws before purchasing one. Keep in mind how you intend to use it can impact what type of ADU you purchase and where it should go on your property. A modular unit may work well if there isn’t enough room in the backyard for something more permanent and prefabricated options could offer very quick living quarters. You’ll want to consult with experts when building or buying these units, but the trend is growing fast.


Mantises are usually green, brown, or grey in color. They have triangular heads with elbowed antennae, large compound eyes that pivot sideways (giving them nearly 360-degree vision), and a flat body. The praying mantis is named for the way its front limbs are held together in a prayer-like posture that gives them great camouflage. While they can move relatively fast, their speed is limited by the fact the back two legs act as arms and not as legs. Some species may have wings with which they fly if danger presents itself but most cannot fly.

They are an excellent garden friend because they eat harmful pests that might be damaging your plants, such as aphids and leafhoppers. But beyond being a helpful friend, the praying mantis is an animal with many unique and fascinating facts.

Known as mantises in North American or European countries and more than 2000 other regional names such as “praying mantis,” “preying mantis,” “mantid,” or just “mantis”—the common name for this insect around the world varies as much as its color variations. The name “praying mantis” comes from a unique stance that gives this insect the look of being in a prayerful position, though it is not known why they bend their front limbs into this posture and how they develop this behavior.

The female praying mantis lays her eggs first after choosing a mate. She can lay up to about 400 eggs which she carries around with her front legs until they hatch. The female mantises cannot eat while carrying the eggs. She spends a lot of time caring for her young, guarding the egg sac firmly until they are ready to be on their own. Mantises can live up to one year and sometimes longer.

In order to survive, praying mantises eat almost any kind of animal (not plant material). They consume flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, and beetles. They use their front legs to catch and hold onto their prey while using the long spines along the inside of their legs to deliver a bite. The adult mantis may eat between 40 and 80 insects per week. That’s a lot of help from one insect!

Mantises are a garden friend, eating pests to help keep your plants safe. So if you want some great protection against harmful insects such as aphids, leafhoppers, flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers or crickets—don’t harm these friendly creatures.

The play Harvey by Mary Chase is a classic that has been revived and will be playing at the Spotlight Playhouse in September. Written in 1944, the play is about Elwood P. Dowd and his friend Harvey. The problem is that Harvey only reveals himself to a limited few so most people think Elwood talks to an imaginary friend. Elwood is lovingly cared for by his sister Veta, but she has an announcement to make that will change all of their lives. The play takes place in Middle America and deals with family issues and personal relationships.

The Spotlight Playhouse is excited to be bringing this classic story back into the spotlight for this fall production. This show is sure to delight audiences and the hilarious, wonderful characters are sure to leave you entertained. The cast will be bringing this classic story back onto the stage for a limited time and we have all of the information you need to get your tickets before they sell out.

Join them for this modern classic that will be running from September 3-18 as well as many other events happening at the Spotlight Playhouse this fall. Come see this amazing show live on stage and catch all of the performances you have been waiting for.

Tickets for Harvey can be purchased from their website at: http://www.thespotlightplayhouse.com. Tickets start at $12 for adults, $10 for Seniors, and $8 for Students. There are also group rates that are only available by calling the box office at (859) 756-0011 or in person at The Spotlight at 214 Richmond Road in Berea.

The Spotlight Playhouse is still going strong with an exciting 2021-2022 season. This year’s list of productions includes over 160 performances featuring The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Games Afoot, A Christmas Carol, The Mousetrap, 12 Angry Jurors, and many more.  

Berea has a wonderful selection of venues to host your next birthday party. From crossing those monumental thresholds, like the big 50, or a simple small venue to keep the mess out of your house these are the top places to get your party started.

  1. The Dinner Bell – The Dinner Bell is a family-style restaurant located just off of the I-75 exit 76. The Dinner Bell is a great place to host your next birthday party because it has a large private dining room featuring large windows and a fireplace. Additionally, the food is some of the best in Berea and they offer several different options to feed your guests. To inquire about renting the room or to find out what delicious options are available call 859-986-2777.
  2. The Smokehouse Grill – The Smokehouse Grill has two areas that can be set up for a private party experience. The first option is the meeting room that will seat around 30 people comfortably. The second is the large fireplace room located just off the main dining room and offers easy access to the country buffet that has made the Smokehouse Grill a Berea staple of great viddles. Located just off of I-75 Exit 77 in Berea, finding the restaurant is a snap. To rent the rooms contact the Smokehouse by calling 859-986-0830
  3. Club Arena Skating Rink – Celebrating over 60 years of entertaining on Broadway. Club Arena Keeps the tradition set by Charlie and Polly Wyatt back in 1960. They are a classic rink with a modern twist and take pride in providing great, family entertainment. All of their sessions are targeted to skaters of all ages and abilities. All music is tailored to be safe for all ages with families in mind. Contact them today for the best selection and availability! 211 North Broadway (in “Old Town”) Berea, KY 40403 859-986-3881, 859-661-1338
  4. Kentucky Farm Bureau – You might not think of an Insurance office as the first option for a Birthday Party location, but Kentucky Farm Bureau has a lot to offer that makes it the perfect place to celebrate your next birthday. The community room features a full kitchen, private restrooms, and just out the door without any cumbersome steps is ample parking. Call 859-986-2318 M-F 8:00 am-4:30 pm to ask about this convenient space.
  5. The Spotlight Playhouse – The Spotlight Playhouse is a wonderful place to bring the family for a fun-filled birthday party. It is located at 214 Richmond Road on the strip and offers several venues to rent out for a small group or large crowd. From a black box theatre that has 100 seats and great acoustics to the open hardwood floored Studio and spacious lobby, the Spotlight Playhouse has something for everyone. To learn more about renting the rooms call 859-756-0011.
  6. The Berea Friends Meeting House – The Berea Friends Meeting House is a unique location to hold your next birthday party in Berea. The meeting house spaces can be rented out for a reasonable fee and offer seating for up to 100 people. The meeting house is less than a mile from Berea College at 300 Harrison Rd. Email requests for reservations may be sent to rentals@bereafriends.org
  7. The Russel Acton Folk Center – The center was built by a group of volunteers and many generous donations, in the mid-1980s. Berea has taken ownership of this facility and is now renting it privately. Featuring 3,500-square feet of open space, a commercial kitchen, and over 500 square feet dedicated to bathroom facilities, this building can be used for many different types of events. The cost of a facility rental will depend on the length of your event, number of people, and whether or not the kitchen is needed. For reservation information call (859) 986-9402.
  8. Oh Kentucky Campground – The Oh Kentucky Banquet Room just might be the perfect space for your next birthday party in Berea. The large building will house a considerable amount of guests and for an additional fee, your guests will have access to the campground swimming pool. For more information and rates please call 859-986-1150.
  9. The Boone Tavern – Boone Tavern Event Center, Skylight Room, Robinson Room, Coyle Gathering Room, Lincoln Lounge, and Elizabeth Ann Dunseth Lounge are all spaces perfectly fitted for a birthday party and range in size to seat 14 guests to 150 guests. Many of the rooms feature complimentary wi-fi and access to audio/video equipment. As the pricier location on this list you may want to reserve the Boone Tavern for the most special of occasions, but then again aren’t all birthdays special? To rent one of these exquisite rooms call 859-985-3967.
  10. Berea Intergenerational Center – The 1990s saw Berea celebrate its age diversity when the Intergenerational Center opened its doors in 1996. Some of the features of the center include several small rooms/offices, a kitchen, and a large community room. The community room is available for rentals and offers ample room for most birthday celebrations. Contact the Berea Senior Citizens Center for more information by calling (859) 986-8350.
  11. Many Area Churches – If you are a member of a local church you may need to look no further than your local congregation for a birthday party location. Many area churches have well-appointed fellowship halls available to members for free or at a low cost. Some of the nicest halls include Berea Baptist Church, Westside Baptist Church, First Christian, Berea United Methodist Church, and Church on the Rock.

The Berea area offers a wide variety of spaces to host your next birthday party. From the more formal Boone Tavern, with its elegant ballrooms and meeting rooms, to small intimate venues perfect for a smaller get-together, you’re sure to find something that will meet your needs in this town full of history and community spirit. With so many options on our list, it’s easy to see why Berea is such an excellent location for hosting your next birthday. Call one of these locations today or stop by their website for more information about what they have available.


Spotlight Acting School Little Mermaid JR

The Little Mermaid opens the Spotlight Acting School’s 18th Season this September. The award-winning musical will showcase some of their best young stars as they take you on an enchanted journey underwater to a world where dreams really can come true, if only for a little while.

The show follows the adventures of Ariel, a mermaid princess who yearns to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. But first, she’ll have to defy her father King Triton…and risk everything! Filled with unforgettable songs such as “Under The Sea”, “Kiss The Girl” and “Part Of Your World”, Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR is equal parts romance and adventure for everyone.

Shows are scheduled for Sept. 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 6:30 pm and Sept. 12 and 19 at 2:00 pm at The Spotlight Playhouse, 214 Richmond Road, Berea KY 40403. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for students, with all children able to sit in a lap admitted free. For tickets or more information, you can visit http://www.spotlightactingschool.com

Buc-ee’s construction continues on I-75 in Richmond, KY as summer comes to an end. Buc-ee’s is a privately held company headquartered in Lake Jackson, Texas. The chain has been growing rapidly in recent years; as of 2018, it had 44 locations in six states (Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Florida).

This will be their first Kentucky location.

What is Buc-ee’s and how does it compare to other gas stations

A true convenience store with gas pumps and a shopping area. Convenience comes from the huge variety of items they offer. You can find anything from hot dogs to ice cream to wood for your BBQ.

This is unlike most other gas stations since it is not just a place where you buy gas to fill up your car and be on your way. They also are a place where you can go shopping for food, drinks, snacks, ice cream, and more. This is why it has been able to grow so quickly over the past several years as Americans now live busy lives where we do not have time to cook our own meals or shop at other grocery stores which can take more time than people have in their day.

How this will impact current businesses in the area

Only time will tell how this new gas station will impact current business in the area. Having a gas station near your house is convenient but some people will say that it could hurt businesses in the area. If more people choose to stop at Buc-ee’s because of its convenience, they may not need to go as often to other stores or restaurants nearby. It is possible that this might happen, but there are many different factors that can affect this: 1) Will people be willing to drive past other gas stations or even grocery stores just to get gas? 2) How large will this new Buc-ee’s store be and how well-stocked will it be with supplies? 3) Will prices at Buc-ee’s be lower than prices at other stores?

Why did they choose Richmond, KY as the location for their first Kentucky location

Buc-ee’s chose Richmond, KY as the location for its first location in Kentucky because of its convenient access to Northern and Southern traffic. The site is located on I-75, which links these two regions together.

The $25 million project will include 120 gas pumps, a 53,000 square foot shopping facility, and a restaurant. The location of the gas pumps are situated at a highly visible area to be able to entice as many users as possible.

The Buc-ee’s employer will provide over 200 full-time jobs upon opening and the location will be open 24 hours a day. This will not only bring jobs to the community but also a variety of new services to Madison County residents. 

Christmas "Carol"


“With heartwarming moments of endearment and quirky comical spirits, this modern spin of a holiday favorite is a welcomed reprise from the 2020 blues and one you should not miss.”

A Year Like None Other

The stage has been mostly bare at the Spotlight Playhouse this year as COVID-19 took the world by storm, but this has not stopped the talented staff and volunteers from striving to keep the performing arts alive. Last season the Playhouse premiered an all-new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol written adapted for the stage by local English teacher and Spotlight veteran, Jeremy Grant. Directed by Chad Hembree and staring Tony Crachiolo as Mr. Scrooge, the play was a hit and was quickly scheduled for a return in 2020 with possibly setting up a new Berea tradition.

Chad Hembree's Christmas "Carol" 2020
Chad Hembree’s Christmas “Carol” 2020

Unfortunately, the return of Ebenezer Scrooge could not happen in 2020, so in steps Carol Scrooge. “We needed something to show that Spotlight is still alive this Christmas. I poured over many scripts and considered asking Jeremy to adapt his 2019 script for a small cast, but eventually, I decided just to write one myself.” said playwright and director Chad Hembree. The new script entitled Christmas “Carol” features a small cast and takes a new spin on the classic tale.  Starring Jennifer Rose Escobar, the story follows Carol Scrooge, a distant descendant of Ebenezer Scrooge. The Scrooge family has become synonymous with Christmas charity since Ebenezer’s frightful night, but the memories of the past have faded, and Carol is slipping back into the family’s old ways. Once again Jacob Marley returns to offer Carol the same chance to redeem herself as he did his dear friend and partner many decades ago. Just as before she is visited by three spirits all with lessons to share.

Jacob Marley appears
Jacob Marley appears. Played by Mason Hembree.


You can view Christmas “Carol” right here on BereaOnline.com beginning December 21st. There is no cost to stream this production, but a donation link will be up to help the Spotlight Playhouse stay afloat until spring when the theater hopes to return to a regular schedule.


Chad Hembree

Chad Hembree

Playwright / Director


  • World Premiere – Monday, Dec. 21 7:00pm
  • Free to watch on-demand at BereaOnline
  • Filmed at the Spotlight Playhouse
  • An original play by Chad Hembree
  • Cast
    • Jennifer Rose Escobar
    • Charla Gilbert
    • Kyrsten Daugherty
    • Isabel Escobar
    • Letha Hembree
    • Paula Davis
    • Lydia Escobar
    • Scotty Varney
    • Phoenix Bailey
    • Mason Hembree
    • Rachelle Cordova
  • A Bluegrass Players Production
  • Special Thanks to the Spotlight Film School