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The Best Little Folk Festival in Kentucky

Have you ever gone into a little mountain shop and seen whimsical wood carvings of animals or people? It’s simply amazing what some people can do with just a carving knife and a piece of wood.

Minnie Adkins, a long-time resident of Sandy Hook, Ky., has made a name for herself, not just in the Bluegrass State but across the country for her stunning folk art creations.

This living legend even has a special festival held in her honor every July (this year, 2022, it’ll be held on the 16th). It’s called the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival.

Here’s why you should plan a trip to Sandy Hook, Ky.

About the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival

If you’re looking for a day of family fun or enjoy browsing folk art, you must attend the Minnie Adkins Day folk art festival in Sandy Hook. Held every third Saturday in July, the festival draws in visitors from all over to celebrate the legacy of Minnie Adkins. In Kentucky, her name is synonymous with folk art as Minnie is one of the best-known folk wood carving artists around.

Minnie taught herself how to carve when she was a child. After learning that people might want to purchase her wood carvings, she and her husband started carving for others in 1987. Minnie’s work is featured in the art galleries in the American Folk Art Museum, the Smithsonian, and the National Gallery of Art. Matt Collinsworth, the director of the Kentucky Folk Art Center, explains, “Minnie Adkins is the most important female wood carver in America.”

Girl making art at arts festival
Celebrate the legacy of Minnie Adkins at the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival.

How to Get to the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival

The Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival takes place at the Little Sandy Lodge in Sandy Hook. If you’re driving along Interstate 64 between Lexington, Ky., and Charleston, W.Va., you’ll take exit 137 to Morehead.

From there, you’ll follow Highway 32 for about 21 miles until you turn onto Highway 7 in Newfoundland. The Little Sandy Lodge is about 2 miles from the Highway 32-Highway 7 intersection. Sandy Hook is about an 80-minute drive from both Lexington and Charleston.

What to Do at the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival

Obviously, there are lots of folk art at the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival. Visitors can browse wood carvings, paintings, quilts, and yard art.

But there’s also so much more. Crafts, music, food, and entertainment fill the front yard of Little Sandy Lodge. Vendors and artists only pay $10 to set up a booth to share their products. It’s free for guests to attend.

Pro Tip: Road tripping to Kentucky? Make sure you have these Seven Road Trip Essentials.

About Sandy Hook, Ky.

The fishhook-shaped bend in the Little Sandy River gives the town its name. It’s a very small town with less than one square mile of land and only about 600 residents.

Of the people who call Sandy Hook “home,” a little over 30% live below the poverty line. Country music singer Keith Whitley was from Sandy Hook. You’ll find a statue of him playing a guitar in the local cemetery and a street named Keith Whitley Boulevard.

Older group of artistis quilting together at the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival
Shop for wood carvings, paintings, quilts, and yard art at the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival.

Places to Stay Near Sandy Hook, Ky.

When planning a trip to the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival, there aren’t a lot of places to choose from in town. Besides the Little Sandy Lodge where the event is, you don’t have many other options. But nearby, you’ll also find a bed and breakfast and a state park.

Little Sandy Lodge

Address: 1916 N Kentucky 7, Sandy Hook, KY 41171

About: There are 15 rooms here at Little Sandy Lodge that include free wifi, Direct TV, a refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee maker, and a blow dryer. A free continental breakfast is also provided for guests each morning. Rooms have single or double beds. The staff at Little Sandy Lodge will make you feel as though you’ve arrived home.

John Hunt Morgan Bed & Breakfast

Address: 120 W Tom T Hall Blvd, Olive Hill, KY 41164

About: Historic downtown Olive Hill, Ky., is full of shops and Civil War history. John Hunt Morgan Bed and Breakfast is a Victorian-style house situated above downtown. It’s within walking distance of exploring the stores or hiking through the forested area surrounding the bed and breakfast. There’s also a Cobblestone Cottage available for rent on the property. Olive Hill is about 30 minutes from Sandy Hook.

Grayson Lake State Park

Address: 314 Grayson Lake State Park Road, Olive Hill, KY 41164

About: Also located in Olive Hill is Grayson Lake State Park, which provides a campground for RVers. The campground features 71 campsites with utility hookups, a dump station, restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. It’s only open from mid-March through mid-November, so it’s a great option when visiting Sandy Hook for the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival.

Things to Do Near Sandy Hook, Ky.

Although the festival will be a highlight of your trip to Sandy Hook, there are other things to do to make your stay enjoyable and memorable. Enjoy the outdoors at Grayson Lake State Park, and learn about the history and culture of the Laurel Gorge area. Browse the folk art from artists of Kentucky. There’s something fun for everyone!

Grayson Lake State Park

There is so much to do at Grayson Lake State Park. You can be as active as you want or relax and enjoy the scenery. Kayak to Grotto Falls or play a round of golf. Two popular hikes are the Beech Hemlock Trail, where you can view sandstone rock formations. At Lick Falls Overlook, you can explore or photograph the cliff line. Boating and fishing are also popular activities, as well as picnicking and enjoying one of the three children’s playgrounds.

Laurel Gorge Cultural Heritage Center

According to the center’s Facebook pages, Laurel Gorge Cultural Heritage Center “is dedicated to the ongoing education of the heritage and natural environment of Elliott County, Kentucky.” There are numerous activities hosted by the center each month. Some of these activities include crafting, quilting, and rag rug making. There’s a monthly Book Walk for children and community hikes scheduled. If you’re looking to learn more about the area around Sandy Hook, this is a great stop on your trip.

Kentucky Folk Art Center

Located on the campus of Morehead State University, the Kentucky Folk Art Center houses over 1,000 pieces of self-taught art. Many pieces of the folk art in the exhibits display whimsical features. However, other pieces show grit, courage, and determination during hard times.

The second-floor gallery features rotating exhibits throughout the year that may include photography, fine art, historical content, and more. The center is open Monday-Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Pro Tip: Visiting the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival isn’t the only unique thing you can explore! Check out these 22 Unique RV Destinations.

Is a Road Trip to the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival Worth It? 

If you’re looking to experience the folk art life in Kentucky, there’s no better place to visit than Sandy Hook during the Minnie Adkins Day Folk Art Festival.

The day may even bring a visit with the legendary artist herself. But when the festival is over, there are still things to do around the area to make your stay worthwhile for several days. Explore the history and culture of the area. Bask in the beauty of nature.

The next time you plan your travels for July, make sure to add Sandy Hook, Ky., to your list of destinations. You’ll be glad you did!

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