At least one local merchant has plans to lure some of the crowd from the first NASCAR race at the Kentucky Speedway over to spend a little time and money in Henry County.
Without hesitation David Neville of Campbellsburg’s Capstone Produce Auction said that snagging a NASCAR race just up the road is the biggest opportunity for growth in Henry County right now.
The Inaugural Quaker State 400 weekend is expected to draw at least 100,000 race fans to the area between Friday, July 7, and Sunday, July 9.
“Our parking lot to their parking lot is 26 miles,” he said. “We’re going to have college girls at the racetrack handing out flyers and coupons.”
Neville will serve up fresh local barbecued meats, grilled sweet corn and homemade ice cream at two locations. Capstone Grille will open a mobile restaurant at Sparta’s Exit 57, and will serve food at its regular location in Campbellsburg.
“We thought about what else our producers could take advantage of (besides the auction venue) and decided to ramp up our cafe,” he said.
With an eye toward bolstering Henry County businesses, the coupons handed out at the race will be good for free homemade ice cream only at the Campbellsburg site.
Flyers also will emphasize free Wi-Fi and other amenities at the auction site.
To capitalize on the July 4 holiday weekend and the race fans, both restaurants will be open July 1-10.
Neville designated a retail area and built a barbecue pit at the original Capstone Grille and reached out to master smoker Wendell Thomas of Fall City Smokers. “He’s our mentor,” he said. Smoked meat offerings include ribs, chicken, pulled pork and custom orders.
Homemade ice cream comes courtesy of Chaney’s Dairy Barn. “That decision was made as much to satisfy the owner (Neville) as his customers,” he joked. Chaney’s Dairy Barn is another Kentucky Proud business. In fact, it was named in USA Today as the best ice cream parlor in Kentucky.
Shelbyville farmer Bill Gallrein will provide the sweet corn.
Even the picnic tables were crafted by Henry County Amish woodworkers.
Longtime Campellsburg IGA owner Stephan Smith is not quite as enthusiastic.
Smith said he doesn’t expect a significant push in business this first time around. “I’m just making the usual plans as we would have for any other holiday,” he said.
Smith said once the I-71 Campbellsburg interchange is updated, he believes more business will trickle into Campbellsburg, but the town itself needs to change. “Campbellsburg needs to become a destination for tourists and shoppers,” he said, “like La Grange and Carrollton.”
One thing Carrollton is attempting to push through is an RV Park. Smith said the zoning near Campbellsburg does not support that idea. “It’s set up for single family homes,” he said, “and you have to give campers more than just a place to park.”
Smith suggested that because of Lake Jericho, the Pendleton area is more amenable to that sort of facility. “Lake Jericho is one of the best kept secrets in Henry County,” he said. “We should develop what we already have there.”
Neville said if he could get the zoning he would build an RV park in a heartbeat.
Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent blamed the economy for a lack of new businesses, including being turned down for a hotel. “That would be a positive thing for the county,” he said, “and bring restaurants and other businesses. We are excited about the possibilities.”
Neville said he is excited about the here and now.
“I’m creating our own stimulus package,” he said. “If everybody waited around for everything to be just right, nobody would do nothing.”