15 Things West Kentuckians Have to Explain to Everybody Else

Sundrop
1.  We obsess about the weather.  Everyone in western KY considers themselves a meteorologist.  They know all the terms, they watch the radar, they can predict the weather better than anyone I’ve ever seen, including those high-priced meteorologists on TV.  They have to.  They need to know when they will be able to get their equipment in the field, they need to know when they can get into their stands or woods to go hunting, they need to know when they can head to the lake.  Our lives revolve around the weather.  And if you don’t like it, wait 30 minutes, it’ll change.
2.  Don’t tell us you know where we are.  You don’t.  We are nowhere near Owensboro or Bowling Green. If you know where Paducah is then you’re close.  But you then need to head south.  We are in faaarrrrr western Kentucky, close to where the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers meet.  We are 30 minutes to Illinois, Missouri or Tennessee.  We are two hours to Nashville, Memphis or St. Louis.  We are five hours to Lexington.
3.  If you want to make effective small talk with someone from west Kentucky you are safe by talking about bean or corn prices, the lack of affordable tobacco help, where you’re from or who you’re related to, why you’re in the area, or basketball.  If you really want to get us riled up talk Rick Pitino up or down.  There are those of us who are Louisville fans who hate him.  Then there those who are Kentucky fans who love him.  I don’t know.
4.  #BBN.  Not everyone follows Twitter but everybody follows Kentucky basketball.  Any true UK fan knows all the players and their stats and what round they’ll be drafted in the NBA.  Non-UK fans know Kentucky basketball because they want to argue about those stats and those players and what round the players won’t be drafted in the NBA.  And just like Pitino everyone has an opinion on Coach Cal.
5.  That guy, from The Voice, with the voice, yeah, he’s from Kentucky.  Sweet.  But did you know that guy from America’s Got Talent, that chicken catcher, he’s from western Kentucky.  Don’t judge.
6.  If you want to dress like somebody from western Kentucky you either need to wear camo or something UK.  I tease my husband that I’m going to bury him in his blue jeans, boots and a UK shirt.  Flannel works too.  Women make a few changes but not enough to note here.  Oh, and you can get all of this at Walmart or Tractor Supply.
7.  How to sound like you are from west Kentucky?  You can listen to some of Jeff Foxworthy and get pretty close.  But in western Kentucky, well, some words change.  Not being native to this part of the state I always noticed that some words were used differently.  That’s in all parts of the state.  But one word I swore I would never use, no matter what was “pack”.  I was raised that you pack your bag.  I was not raised to pack the groceries into the house.  I was not raised to pack the baby.  That was always so weird to me.  But you know, I say it now.  Everyone understands it.  It just comes out.
8.Western Kentucky has got some great food.  But you have two choices:  fried or smoked.  Seriously.  I used to be able to lose weight by avoiding fried food.  You can’t do that here.  It’s going to be fried.  But it’s so good, you can’t pass it up.  Fried chicken, fried catfish, fried okra.  Yum.  So let’s talk about such things.  We love fried catfish.  In fact, in most restaurants that’s the only fish you can get.  Don’t go asking for whitefish.  They’ll look at you crazy.  What’s a whitefish?  And you don’t want it even if it’s on the menu.  It’s usually cooked the way it comes in, pre-breaded and frozen.  But the catfish, even if you don’t like catfish, is worth eating.  Really worth eating.  And don’t go for that imitation catfish.  Can you imagine?  Imitation catfish?  Well, there is an asian fish that resembles catfish.  But any connoisseur of catfish can tell the difference in one bite.  You want pond raised catfish.  Yep, that’s the best.  Also, in western Kentucky we pride ourselves on our barbecue.  It’s the best.  We cook it low and slow, meaning on a low temperate for lots of hours, like 8, 10 or 24.  And we let the meat speak for itself.  That means we don’t douse it with tons of sauce.  If you want sauce that’s your business but we’re not going to put it on our meat.  In western Kentucky we barbecue anything:  pork butts and shoulders, turkey, chicken, ribs, bologna, deer, rabbit.  You name it, we can barbecue it.  I’ve even known some raccoon being out on the pit.  But if you’re lucky you know someone who smokes country hams or sausage.  Now that’s living high on the hog.  I’ll warn you though, once you eat it you won’t want to eat what you get at the grocery.
9.If you are looking for something to drink you’ve come to the right place.  You have two choices:  tea or Sundrop.  I’m sure you have more choices than that but you can get your tea sweet or unsweet.  You can get your Sundrop regular or diet.  There are other drinks, like milk, beer, other soft drinks or bourbon.  If you’re ordering tea you need to stipulate sweet or “un”.  Make sure if you are ordering Sundrop to order diet if that’s what you want.  And these are breakfast drinks too.  I know lots of people who wouldn’t touch coffee but they have to have their Sundrop first thing or they’ll get a headache.  If you’re going to drink bourbon then Sundrop makes a good mixer.  It’s a good mixer with screwdrivers, margaritas or any other mixed drink.  Just saying.  Most everyone just drinks Sundrop.  In fact, back in the 80’s, when Sundrop wasn’t available everywhere, Graves County boasted selling more Sundrop than anywhere else in the country.  And there are lots of people who moved away but would buy Sundrop by the case when they came home so they didn’t have to go without.
10.A lot of people think that people who live in the country are poor.  I will tell you, we’re not poor.  We’re not rich.  But we make as much money as people in other areas of the state.  The difference is we’re not driving BMW’s.  We’re driving a brand new Chevy Silverado HD 3/4 ton, 4 wheel drive, crew cab.  I’m sure that thing costs as much as some of the BMW’s out there, if not more.  We don’t have a place in Florida.  You’ll find us at Gulf Shores.  We prefer to put our money back into the land.  So, if we have a good year it’s pretty likely that we’re going to build a new barn or a few acres here or there.  That old tractor could be restored too.
11.When you live in Louisville people know you by what high school you went to.  If you’re asked there where you went to school they are not asking college, they’re asking high school.  But in western Kentucky they want to know where you are from.  We’re not usually asking which city, more like what county (as there are 8 counties in the Jackson Purchase area of Kentucky).  If you’re from the same county then you can ask area like Water Valley, Dog Patch, Hard Money, Fancy Farm, Benton or Sharpe.  If you can’t find anything to talk about after that then you must not be related to anyone in those areas or went to school with anyone from there.  Because, we all usually know someone in common.
12.Camo is a fashion statement.  Just saying.
13.There are some things we don’t want to talk about.  We don’t care what your politics are. We don’t care what your religion is (we’ll pray for you anyway).  We don’t care what you think about guns (yes, we have them.  yes, we use them).  We don’t want to know your liberal views.  We might agree with you in some ways.  We’re not going to agree with you in others.  We believe what we believe.  You can believe what you believe.  Thank you.
14.We don’t apologize for shopping at Walmart.  We push a buggy, not a shopping cart.  We don’t do self-check out.
15.We know all the words to My Old Kentucky Home.  We sing it.  We know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner.  We sing that one too.  To the top of our lungs.
Any time you want to know this first hand, come on down, if you can find us.  We’ll welcome you home.
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16 thoughts on “15 Things West Kentuckians Have to Explain to Everybody Else

  1. Pingback: 15 Things West Kentuckians Have to Explain to Everybody Else | Painted Hammers and Fried Okra

  2. Having grown up in Fulton County, KY, I am thrilled to read this. I now live in Northern KY near Cincinnati, OH. When asked where I am from, I say South Western Kentucky. People respond with the usual, “Oh Paducah”. Once I tell them that my area is an hour South of Paducah, they ask everytime, “Kentucky goes past Paducah? “. Bless their hearts, they just don’t understand.

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  3. Excellent article! Glad you pointed out you moved here and were not born and raised here.
    Most people that know something about Kentucky or live in any other part of Kentucky can tell by our accent we are from Western Kentucky . So having to go beyond saying we’re from Kentucky means you’re a definite outsider. And we might as well automatically start explaining where Western Kentucky is and that we have NO idea why they call a school in Bowling Green Western Kentucky University.
    The comment about what area or county we are from explains a couple of omissions. According to our area and age determines our soft drink choice. Mountain Dew reigns for some. (Including myself) In Weatern Calloway County and Eastern Graves County Mello Yello reigns supreme. Sundrop is drank by the older population. There is a glaring similarity here, while most will accept Citrus Drop in a pinch DO NOT try and offend anyone by offering them that swill called Mountain Lightning that Wal-Mart sells. But Sweet Tea usually does reign supreme with all.
    And also a well seasoned Western Kentuckian can tell by the accent and phrases another Western Kentuckian uses where they are from.

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    • Western Kentucky university was slated for Hopkinsville but those dummies didn’t want it they picked a nut house instead. Still not much more west then bowling green but ya known to the rest it’s pretty far west.

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  4. I live in Western Ky, , Mayfield, to be exact. I understand completely! I have never lived anywhere else.
    Instead of being stuck in traffic we get stuck behind farm equipment on county roads. Small town feel. Oh yes, we love our sweet tea!! We use too many slang words, but it’s all ok, everyone talks this way. We are not snobs. Everyone waves their hand at anyone we meet on the highway. Simple life yes, but it’s all I know.
    Sheltered as children, yes. But I am good with it.
    You have not had barbecue unless you have been in Western Kentucky. Not all parts of Kentucky know about real barbecue. It’s only in Western KY. People who visit want always want to take some home!!!

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  5. Love it !!! I am close to Owensboro and bowling green lol but Muhlenberg county hits every mark you said lol don’t forget beans and cornbread with that catfish. Whewwwww we make you pin yer ears back to keep from beatin your self to death 💕

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  6. Hi from Farmington and I have never understood the fascination with Sundrop – I can take every once in a while but to get up out of bed and drink it … I think not. And another shocking fact not everyone is a fan of #BBN or basketball at all.

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  7. Pingback: Overwhelmed | Cynelder's Blog

  8. I’m a Louisiana transplant for most of my adult life. Left Mayfield after graduation to attend college in New Orleans where I met my husband. After 60 plus years, l’m still asked where I’m from because of my accent. You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl! After small these years I still miss my “Old Kentucky home”.

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