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State Fair Highlights


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1998 Kentucky State Fair Report.

The Kentucky State Fair has become an annual event for the Kentucky Indiana Rail Advocates. The booth this year highlighted Passenger Rail and included both Amtrak and Via Rail Canada. And it is the first booth of the groups to utilize the internet.

The computer was proven this year to be a permanent fixture at future state fairs. It gave our members as well as fair gores instant access to the Amtrak and Via Reservations Departments. And provided us information to the various commuter rail systems through out North America and The World.

One of the highlights of the fair was seeing associate member Les Shivley Surfing the web. Les by the way is 87 years old and volunteers every year. Les gave his overwhelming approval to the new technology and hopes to see more terminals at next years fair.

The booth this year was packed full of information and had several photo displays. We were very happy to be able to show photographs of Amtrak in many of our Kentucky and Tennessee communities which are not normally served. Highlights included Corbin Kentucky, Knoxville and Nashville in Tennessee.

Fair gores were intrigued by these special charter trains and it proved to many nay sayers that Amtrak can operate to many areas that are nt on the current Amtrak System. Perhaps this will help make people in the communities through out the Commonwealth more aware that passenger trains are as viable today as the were 30 years ago.

Fairgoers are impressed with the new look of Amtrak and the Superliner Trains were definitely a hit. Older folks see a definite improvement from the early days. And many younger people learned that passenger trains still operate in the Commonwealth. Rail awareness has grown over the past decade and folks are realizing that our railroads can still deliver the goods.

Louisvillians are pleased with the thruway buses to Indianapolis and the interline ticketing with Greyhound to that city. However many folks would like to see a bus connector to Cincinnati as well. Folks from Lexington and other Kentucky cities not currently served by Amtrak would like better accessibility.

There is still disappointment that there have been no efforts to provide a direct connection to the South along the route once served by the Floridian. And many of the citizens can not fully understand why a city the size of Louisville doesn't have at least one train per day. Many asked if the Hoosier State could be extended southward. And what would it take to get that to become a reality.

This is the second year that the group has received co operative money from Amtrak to help in the purchase of an add in the fair brochure. And the second year Paula's World of Travel has offered to be the agency to work with the group. By involving Paula who is a big rail supporter we are able to tap into Co Op Dollars.

In addition to Paula we must thank Eli Mason of Amtrak's Travel Agency Sales Centre in Philadelphia. He and his boss Kathy Baker make a first rate team and have made sure we receive the supplies and the other ideas such as ticket give away and the Co op dollars from Amtrak. But the commitment to our group doesn't stop with the fair Eli is always willing to provide information on Amtrak for any rail promotional activity and routinely sends Pencils and Engineers Hats to our Kentucky Railway Museum for use on their trains.

Our thanks to Tom Little as well with Via Rail Canada who is always generous on materials on rail travel to and from Canada. And the New North American Rail Pass offered by Via and Amtrak was very appealing to many fair goers.

And we can not forget the generosity of the Kentucky State Fair Board who has generously donated the space for the promotion of alternative transportation in the Commonwealth since 1992.

This years booth was manned 12 hours each day by our members and volunteers and we distributed nearly a ton and a half of materials on Passenger Rail roughly 90 boxes of material from Amtrak alone. We had nearly 2,200 people register to win a free trip aboard the Cardinal.

All in all this year fair was a huge success.

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