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Kentucky by Heart: Sharing wishes for the new year; remembering Gene Flairty’s service to Alexandria Fair

By Steve Flairty
NKyTribune Columnist

This year, rather than stating resolutions for 2023, allow me to share my rather huge wish list. I might as well be positive, and hope we’ll agree on a sizeable number of these on the list. Maybe you’ll get ideas you can use. To keep them organized, I’ll give ‘em to you in categories. Here’s my wishes:

Statewide News Wishes

• A year where NO significant, damaging weather events occur. Strong winds in the western part and lots of water in the eastern part of Kentucky have been devastating. Kentuckians need time to heal and let the amazing resilience of our people come back strong.

Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of seven books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and six in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #5,” was released in 2019. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward and NKyTribune columnist and a former member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Ernie Stamper)

• Lots of cooperation between our governor and the legislature to begin to solve our state’s problems–and to see an economic boom gather steam.

• A school year with little sickness to interfere with classroom time and higher academic performance that increases rapidly.

• Much progress in the fight against the opioid addiction scourge.

• Another successful year for the Northern Kentucky Tribune, with our citizens being properly informed about our state and also inspired to make it better.

Sports Wishes

• An ASUN championship for my beloved EKU men’s hoopsters, with A.W. Hamilton named Coach of the Year.

• Bengals back in the Super Bowl, this time winning it.

• A .500 record for the Reds—an improvement from last year–and the successful debuts of a few of their prized future stars from the minors.

• A good year in the minors for former EKU relief pitcher Will Brian, who signed this year with the Yankees . . . and hoping that he’ll be in the bigs in a few short years. How proud the folks in his native Brandenburg, Kentucky, would be!

Personal Wishes

• The spot removed from my nose will be the last of my skin cancers.

• Continually treat my wife as the queen she is and am hoping that her flower arrangements business will thrive and grow.

• Strive to listen more than I talk.

• Find a way to peacefully remove the moles from our one-acre yard.

• Decide what the next book I write will be . . . then get started on it.

• Increase by double the number of speaking engagements I do. Our state needs to hear the stories of Kentucky’s everyday heroes—and it keeps me on my toes to do so.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

In looking over an old copy of the 2013 Alexandria Fair and Horse Show program book, I was reminded about my father, who passed early in that year, being recognized in the “In Memory of…” section. It said:

Gene “Sonny” Flairty (Photo from Flairty family collection)

Gene Flairty was reluctant when asked to join the Alexandria Fair Board and direct the Fair’s floral hall back in the late ‘60s. His plate was already quite full, having a full-time job and tending tobacco and garden acreage in Claryville. Additionally, he was raising two young boys, Mike and Steve, with his wife Alma. He decided to accept the challenge with the Board, however, after considering the opportunity to use his skills and passion to give back to the community where he was raised and had been so good to him.

Gene, or “Sonny,” dedicated the next few decades in service to the Board, not only as Floral Hall director, but also a term as president. He also coordinated the Fair’s tractor pull competitions—bringing a host of others outside the area to participate, thus showcasing the unique and positive attributes of the Alexandria community.

I’ll never forget the fun and excitement of being part of the Fair, which included lots of participation on our family members’ part as we helped Dad with his responsibilities. As a child, I met many “salt-of-the-earth” type people at the Fair that I enjoy writing about today. Our family values of cooperation, hard work, and striving for something bigger than ourselves were reinforced by those connected to the Alexandria Fair and Horse Show, an event still running after over 120 years.

Those days were a big investment of time but are paying dividends 50 years later.

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