Arts & Culture

Eclipseville, U.S.A.

On August 21, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will be the center of the universe for eclipse-watchers

On August 21, 1955 on a farm outside the otherwise unassuming town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a family purportedly encountered about fifteen “little green men” that had just emerged from a UFO. The story quickly became legend, even inspiring early concepts for Steven Spielberg’s classic film E.T. Sixty-two years later to the day, Hopkinsville will once again be at the center of a major celestial event.

courtesy m.b. roland distillery

On Monday, August 21, during what has been dubbed the Great American Solar Eclipse, Hopkinsville will be the point of greatest eclipse, where the moon’s axis passes closest to earth when the eclipse reaches totality at 1:24 p.m. CT. In other words, Hopkinsville and the surrounding area is one of the best places in the nation to view the total eclipse—and the town aims to take full advantage.

“It’s the biggest event this community has ever had,” says Brooke Jung, Hopkinsville’s Solar Eclipse Marketing & Events Consultant. Yes, that’s her job title—the city hired Jung last September specifically to coordinate events around the eclipse, part of a plan begun more than two years ago. For the occasion, the community has nicknamed itself “Eclipseville” and is hosting more than twenty events and festivals all weekend leading up to Monday’s main attraction.

Photo: Jim Creighton

A mural by local artist Amy Peters illustrates the town’s new nickname.

Visitors and locals alike can reserve eclipse-viewing spots at parks, fairgrounds, farms, golf courses, and other private venues throughout the area. At MB Roland Distillery, representatives from fifteen Kentucky distilleries will set up booths for tastings against a backdrop of food, live music, a cigar social, and a VIP distiller’s dinner. About three hours southwest of Louisville and Lexington and just a few miles north of the Tennessee state line, Hopkinsville is outside the Kentucky Bourbon Trail orbit. “Most people come [to Kentucky] and think bourbon,” says Paul Tomaszewski, founder and co-owner of the distillery. “I’m glad we can provide that.” Other weekend events like a downtown music festival, a celebration at the birthplace of Jefferson Davis, and the opportunity to scuba dive in a rock quarry during the two minutes and forty seconds of total darkness all seek to give visitors a taste of Kentucky culture. For folks who prefer a different kind of culture, the seventh annual Little Green Men Days Festival lifts off Friday at 5:00 p.m.

Photo: Courtesy of MB Roland Distillery

MB Roland Distillery, one of many local spots hosting viewing parties for the eclipse.

And if you can’t make it to Kentucky for this one, start planning ahead to April 8, 2024, when the next total eclipse visible in North America will cut a swath across Arkansas and Texas.

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