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    Man, 2014 was an eventful year here in Louisville. We've rounded up the best and worst things to hit our sleepy little town.

     

    Best:

    ReSurfaced

    A joint effort between City Collaborative, the City of Louisville and several local sponsors, ReSurfaced is much more than just a pop-up beer garden. The initiative is turning unused surface lots - which can be a contributing factor to crime rates and overall ugliness in cities - into functional and beautiful spaces. Beginning with the lot behind the facades on Main Street, the initiative brought several local businesses into the project - many hosted events, provided food and took part in fried chicken throwdowns within the space. Current plans see the project moving into more spaces around the city, hosting everything from pop-up cafes to town hall meetings.

     

    Bourbon, Business, Booze

    Louisville’s bourbon industry had a really good year -- the surge in bourbon demand grew so much that distilleries had problems keeping up (see below). On top of that, many new places moved into the city -- Angel’s Envy is opening shop across from Slugger Field; Copper & King’s, Louisville’s local brandy distillery, moved into Butchertown; and Brown-Forman started in on plans to bring a $30 million Old Forester distillery and visitor’s center to Whiskey Row.

     

    Derby

    2014 hosted the second biggest Derby ever with 164,906 people in attendance to see California Chrome win the Run for the Roses. The weather gods took pity on the Kentucky Derby, shining beautiful weather on the event rather than the historically dismal rain and cold. Even Oaks had pretty good weather (in comparison to recent years) and everyone enjoyed the juleps, the sunshine and the general debauchery.

     

    Revitalization of Portland

    Can Gill Holland do it again? The revitalization of NuLu has been a huge boon to our city in general, and we’re hoping that Portland is next. Businesses that have been successful in other parts of town (Please & Thank You’s Portland iteration is called Hot Coffee; Against the Grain is expanding operations, etc.) are planting seeds in Portland, and it’s already becoming a destination area like the Highlands and NuLu. Here’s hoping the upward trajectory continues!
     

    Forecastle

    Forecastle had a record-breaking attendance this year as 60,000 people flocked to the music festival, featuring almost 60 bands. This is a far cry from Forecastle 12 years ago, when the event’s first year drew in only 150 or so people. Headlining this year were Jack White, Beck, Outkast, and The Replacements. Here’s looking forward to what the festival has in store for us next year.

     

    Big Four Bridge

    The Big Four Bridge project finally bore fruit with the opening of the pedestrian and biking walkway that connects Louisville to Jeffersonville, IN. Formerly a defunct railroad bridge with no ramps on one side, the “Bridge To Nowhere” leads nowhere no more. With the opening of the bridge, several restaurants and other businesses have opened up on either side of the river, feeding the masses of people taking strolls between Kentucky and Indiana.

     

    The Belle of Louisville

    Louisville celebrated the 100th birthday of the Belle with a full festival of riverboats. Renowned riverboats from across the country came to Louisville to celebrate the oldest operating Mississippi-style steamboat in the world. It was exciting. It was quirky. It was very Louisville.

     

    Louisville Lists

    Louisville was featured in a ton of lists this year. Yahoo! named the city the 16th best Foodie city in America as well as named NuLu the 18th best food neighborhood in the country. Country Living Magazine named the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular the best halloween celebration across the U.S. and the city is predicted to become a “new Brooklyn” by Fortune Magazine. Look at what other lists Louisville made this year.

     

    Restaurants Gained

    In 2014, Louisville saw the opening of over 25 new restaurants, all of which have added their own special influence to the Louisville food scene. See our recap here.

     

    Worst:

    Restaurants Lost

    While we gained many new places to enjoy a good meal, we lost a few as well. Rest in peace. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, no use crying over spilled milk, etc.

     

    Polar Vortex

    The Polar Vortex really started the year on a bad note. Generally, Louisvillians are able to suffer through humid and boggy mosquito-filled summers so that when winter rolls around they can only mildly suffer from cold weather and the occasional sprinkling of snow (enough to cancel your kid’s school day, but not enough to actually entertain your kids). In 2014, life became horribly unfair as temperatures dropped to the teens and then stayed there. As bad as it was, the Polar Vortex did give Louisville the gift of a mild summer and beautiful Derby day. Does that make up for the bone-numbing chill we endured? Nope. We’re surprised the bread aisle at Kroger has recovered.

     

    The Purge

    In the biggest event that never was, “The Purge” drew national attention and put LMPD on high alert. While there were two fatal shootings that night, neither could be linked to the mass hysteria that hit not only Louisville, but the Twitterverse as well. Both #Louisvillepurge and #louisvillepolicescanner were trending, with an estimated 80,000 people tuning into the local police waves. No one was injured during the hoax, but local businesses did suffer. Turnout around the city was generally low for a Friday night, the Kentucky State Fair seeing lower-than-normal attendance numbers and one local football scrimmage being cancelled, and a twitter outcry for singer Katy Perry to cancel her Yum! Center stop to avoid being a victim of the dreaded Purge. The whole incident started when a student made a hoax poster as a joke, which then spread to social media.

     

    High School Shooting at Fern Creek

    On October 1, a 16-year old teen pulled out a gun in his Fern Creek High School class and shot at a classmate, injuring one and sending the school into lockdown as he fled the scene. An hours-long manhunt led to the apprehension of the suspect in a nearby apartment complex, after which he was charged with first-degree assault, first-degree wanton endangerment, possession of a weapon on school property, tampering with evidence and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. Later interviews with the suspect revealed that the injured student was not his intended target -- he brought the gun to school with the plan to confront a student who he says bought an iPad from him with a fake $100 bill.

     

    Homeless Boy Found Dead in Cherokee Park

    Hundreds of people attended the funeral of a homeless 12-year-old boy this year after he was found murdered in Cherokee Park. Ray Etheridge was reported missing several hours after his body was found by his mother, from whom he had wandered from while waiting at the Mid City Mall. Joseph Cambron, 21 and also homeless, was arrested after he called police and admitted to killing Etheridge when the two got into a fight in the park. It is not clear what the conflict was over, but it ended in Cambron fatally stabbing Etheridge. Cambron suffers from bipolar disorder and, according to his family, struggles with anger issues. Six days after being charged with Etheridge’s murder, Cambron attempted to commit suicide in jail.  He has since been indicted by a grand jury and his court proceedings have been moved from district court to circuit court. Funeral expenses for Etheridge were covered by rapper Master P, who has become an advocate for underprivileged and at-risk youth in Louisville.
     

     

    Tim Stark & Wildlife In Need

    This year, Louisville.com drew attention to Wildlife In Need, a non-profit located in Charlestown, IN that takes in a number of big cats and other wildlife. In the weeks following our coverage, the media spotlight and public scrutiny turned to Tim Stark, the man who runs the wildlife rescue. Questionable practices, breeding and the treatment of animals have come under speculation as citations by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections have been unearthed. The facility is still in operation and is reportedly working on building more animal cages and habitats.

     

    Traffic & Construction

    Not sure we even need to explain the incredible mess that is Louisville traffic and construction right now. It’s going to be awesome when all these new roads and lanes and bridges and whatnot are finished—if we’re not all too elderly to drive by then.

     

    Bourbon Shortage (REALLY?)

    Bourbon enthusiasts were been up-in-arms when Maker’s Mark announced that they would begin watering down their whiskey to meet increased global demands, cutting the alcohol level from 45% to 42%. In less than a week, Maker’s Mark reversed its decision following phone calls, emails and social media response from angry customers.

    Unfortunately, Maker’s Mark cannot immediately meet increased demands due to the bourbon’s required aging time. Today’s supply was produced seven years ago, before the company could reasonably foresee the sharp increase in business. Maker’s isn’t the only bourbon producer affected by the shortage, but did endure a dramatic social media outrage that no others did.

     

    LMAS Is Still Corrupt as Shit

    Louisville Metro Animal Services has been the center of a whirlwind of scandal this year, as The Ville Voice has been doggedly reporting. The year started off on the wrong foot for LMAS when, in January, they suspended a volunteer for putting photos and videos of adoptable pets on her Facebook. Then, in August, another scandal erupted as the public found out that LMAS officials had allegedly let a dog die after using the money donated for her surgery on another dog. After this news broke, the City Council decided for form an ad-hoc committee to investigate LMAS, but who knows where that will lead. Since then, May Fischer has appointed three people to take over Animal Services, but they’ve come under fire.

     

    McConnell v. Grimes, and ALL THAT JAZZ

    The region heaved a heavy sigh of collective relief after Election Day… It had nothing to do with who won, but everything to do with the fact that the McConnell and Grimes campaign commercials would finally get kicked to the curb. The 2014 Kentucky Senatorial race was one of the most vicious, negative-ad filled campaigns in the history of American Democracy. Mud was slung from both sides, with some additional bombs being thrown in from independent candidates. Mostly, McConnell and Grimes spent more time in the race bashing each other’s plans (or lack of plans) for Kentucky citizens, than telling citizens their actual platforms. The results of the race became pretty clear hours before the official count came in, leading Alison Lundergan-Grimes to call Senator Mitch McConnell and concede the race.

     

    Photo: Shutterstock/paulrommer

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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