GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — With the positivity rate dropping and the number of vaccinations rising, more "open" signs are popping up across the Bluegrass.
The pandemic caused delays in the horse racing calendar but the sport was not derailed. However, tours at famous farms across Kentucky were canceled for months.
It's been a long, quiet, year at Old Friends Farm but soon you'll be able to visit Silver Charm and more than 100 of his friends.
"It is a tourism-driven farm, and if we don't get the visitors, we're out of business. So we're really going to be excited about having them back here," said Michael Blowen, founder & owner of Old Friends Farm.
Blowen says, with pandemic protocols, the grounds will be open for tours starting Thursday April 1.
"So now we think it's safe for some people to come back to the farm. They'll be practicing social distancing they'll get their temperature taken, they'll wear their masks," said Blowen.
The following day, Friday April 2, Keeneland welcomes fans back to the racetrack for the first time since 2019. That's good news for downtown Lexington restaurants, shops and hotels along with surrounding central Kentucky towns.
"Our local economy was really rolling before COVID hit and we're ready to pick up where we left off," said Mayor of Midway Grayson Vandegrift.
Midway is barely 20 minutes from Keeneland, and Vandergrift is excited to see horse racing enthusiasts drive through.
"It's gonna be fun not just to count the license plates from what state those people come from, but just to spot the hats of those who have been to Keeneland," said Vandegrift.
There are more signs of turning a new page in the pandemic. Next week, Lexington's Central Library downtown is reopening the first floor. Later this spring, Rupp Arena will host in-person graduations for Fayette County seniors, who only recently returned to the classroom.
There are signs of hope after a year of uncertainty across central Kentucky, where new doors are opening for old friends to come through.