Hopkinsville: Where hospitality may be even more stellar than eclipse

Tiny town 'proud to play host to people from all over the world'

By Shannon McLellan - Social Media Producer
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HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. - Hopkinsville, Kentucky may be a tiny town, but when it comes to Monday's total solar eclipse, it's as big-time as you can get.

NASA designated the 33,000-population city the greatest point of the eclipse, meaning that moon's shadow will cover the sun the most in the Hopkinsville sky, making it the most dramatic place to witness this stellar phenomenom. 

Mayor Carter Hendricks says his town has never experienced anything of this magnitude. On Monday, they're expecting a crowd that will quadruple the city's population, meaning 150,000 people while be flocking to the area. 

Christian County, where Hopkinsville resides, only has 1,000 hotel rooms to its name. So to fit all of the eclipse-chasers, they had to get creative.

Hendricks said Hopkinsville created temporary campsites and RV parks specifically for the event. Many residents have been renting out their homes for as much as $2,000 a night. Since it's an agriculture town, farmers have even rented plots of their land to people to set up their tents before the big event.

So how does the city of Hopkinsville feel about all of the eclipse madness? Hendricks says the town has fully embraced its "greatest point" status, and is proud to play host to people from all over the world.

"We have people from 46 different states that I know of," Hendricks said. "Also 19 different countries and three U.S. territories. This little town of Hopkinsville is playing host to people from all over the world."

Some prominent faces are also making their way over to the little town for the eclipse, including the Vatican's lead scientist Brother Guy Consolmagno. Upon his arrival, Hendricks will welcome Brother Consolmagno with a key to the city.

"You guys may have Mickey Mouse, but we have Brother Guy," Hendricks joked during the interview. 

Another historical figure that may be making an appearance in the Kentucky town on the August 21 eclipse is no stranger to stellar phenomena. On August 21, 1955 a family in the area claimed to see tiny green men walking around their town. The legend has stuck with the people of Hopkinsville, and many are wondering if on the same date 62 years later, the little green men will come back.

No matter who the visitor is, Hendricks says the town has worked hard to make people feel welcome and give them an experience they will never forget. 

"We became aware of the eclipse 10 years ago, and began planning for the event two or three years ago," Hendricks said. The city even hired a person called an "eclipse coordinator" to head all planning for eclipse-related festivals and events. 

The festivals and events will give people who choose Hopkinsville a unique experience, and even local businesses are hopping on board to help eclipse viewers feel at home.

The restaurant 8th Street Tower off of Main Street downtown debuted a special "eclipse burger" in honor of the big event. Many businesses are changing their hours to accommodate the people who traveled, some restaurants even opening 24 hours.

Ebonite International, the world's largest bowling ball manufacturer, is based in Hopkinsville and even made a special eclipse bowling ball for the occasion.

The most out-of-this-world eclipse business venture may come from Casey Jones Distillery, which actually flew corn into space and brought it back to Earth, just to make special moonshine with it.

"People in this community have really embraced that we're the point of greatest eclipse and they're having fun with it," Hendricks said.

Hendricks is hoping the eclipse won't be visitors last time coming through Hopkinsville.

"The science part will take care of itself, but we're also trying to deliver some great Hopkinsville hospitality," Hendricks said. So whether you're camping, snagged a hotel or are just stopping by for the phenomenom the city of Hopkinsville is welcoming all with open arms. 

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