CommunitySpotlight Series


Spotlight on Midway: What makes the city's downtown so special

Posted at 7:29 PM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 19:29:45-05

MIDWAY, Ky. (LEX 18) — To those who enjoy hearing about how we got here, the history of Midway is as delicious as the fare of the many restaurants in its downtown area. A town founded by the railroad some 40 years after Kentucky became the 15th state, it was the halfway point between two of the area’s most prominent cities – Lexington and Frankfort.

Nearly two centuries later, people from all over the world are still finding reasons to come here to a place once dominated by the railroad that bisects its downtown.

“Really, I think (today) probably our greatest asset is our people”, says Midway Mayor Stacy Thurman. “People that live here are so passionate and so kind, they’re welcoming. For a small town, we sure pack a big punch.”

Midway’s Vice Mayor Mary Raglin agrees. “Coming through Midway, you can raise your hand and not put it down until you’re finished, until you’re all the way out of Midway. Because everybody’s ready to wave.”

For decades, Midway thrived as a railroad town, a popular stop for anyone traveling west, with plenty of lodging, eateries, and shops. The town’s fortunes declined along with the railroads half a century ago. But Midway has reclaimed its glory as one of the best true gems of the Bluegrass.

“I grew up seeing all the shops on Railroad Street and thinkin’ they were fantastic”, says store owner Ann Locke. “Three years ago, I opened a little gift shop and it’s wonderful. The visitors come, they’re all doin’ the bourbon tours and doing the horse races and the sales and it’s just so much fun to talk to the visitors that are coming here and it’s great!”

“It’s always been a very quaint, charming kind of place to come. Winter Street, which is our main street that runs through, is full of these historical, beautiful homes that people take a lot of pride in. So, I think it’s popular for other cities that are trying to achieve what Midway already has”, says Thurman.

But Midway shares an issue with other popular destination sites – how to grow, how much to grow, and how fast to grow. With more and more visitors wishing to make their stay permanent, it’s a topic that’s front and center.

“I think that that pride in having a town that you know your neighbor, you care about your neighbor, you know you’re going to be looked after”, says Thurman. “I think that keeps us close-knit and also it keeps us focused on – we know we’re going to change, but we have measured growth, we have calculated change.”

“Everything can’t stay the same forever”, adds Raglin. “You know what I’m sayin’. So, at one point and time, we’re going to have to grow.”