The 606.

That’s where we live. Our area code as a form of cultural identity.

It represents southeastern and far eastern Kentucky — Hal Rogers territory, if you will; Kentucky Wildlands, if you prefer. The land where Daniel Boone walked, where the Hatfields and McCoys made lore, where rugged men toiled in coal mines and some of the most iconic country music singers were born, many along U.S. 23.

I’ve lived almost all my life in the 606. Grew up here — first in Mckee, Jackson County, with the forest bearing Boone’s name at my back door, then in Louisa, Lawrence County (long before “American Idol” winner Noah Thompson) on the banks of the Big Sandy River. And finally I moved to Somerset, where my family was from. The 606 is in my blood.

We’re lucky to have the area code 606. It’s catchy, which is good for marketing. It’s one number away from being creepy, but that one little vowel change in the middle makes all the difference when saying it out loud.

This area has a lot to promote, and when it comes to branding, having an easy-to-remember hook like “606” helps that cause. Just as we’re blessed to be in the 606, we’re blessed to have savvy tourism professionals who know how to wield these conceptual tools.

Lake Cumberland Tourism is looking ahead to this Monday — June 6. Or 06 if you prefer. 6-06. Get it? This sort of creative cohesion is a promoter’s dream.

June is upon us, with Memorial Day in the rear view mirror, and summer vacation is in full swing. Kids are out of school. Tourists are coming in. The water is warm at the lake, SomerSplash, or your own home pool. Outdoor events like the just-concluded Sample of Somerset, Somernites Cruise, this month’s Juneteenth Jubilee and July’s Master Musicians Festival help make the most of our beautiful 606 surroundings.

Lake Cumberland Tourism has that in mind with their “606” promotion, wanting people to know about six top things to do this summer in the 606:

“Be sunkissed living the unsalted life on Lake Cumberland” ... “Go back in time with Somernites Cruise” ... “Live Happley at Haney’s Appledale Farm” ... “Take a dip in SomerSplash Water Park” ... “Dance your cares away at the Master Musicians Festival” ... “Get your belly full in downtown Somerset.”

They add, “You’re in the heart of the 606 area code ... and we hope you stay!”

It drives home how lucky we are to really have something for everyone here. Me, I’m one of those “belly full” people, which is also why I love going out to Haney’s at least once per season and getting one of those sweet slushes to pair with an apple pie. You’d never be able to tell by my svelte figure, I know (don’t all laugh at once, please).

We’re lucky to live in an area that’s developed. I admit, I’m a very nostalgic person. I miss my childhood days in the 606, walking to my neighborhood pool in Louisa or going to the one on Burnside Island when I was here for the summer. As an adult, SomerSplash is of less accessibility to me. But if I was a kid today? I’d love it. When I was younger, we didn’t have anything like that here, or Master Musicians Festival, or all these awesome downtown festivals — so many things that we have now. The people of this area have worked to help it grow and to reach its potential, rather than remaining stagnant, and it now offers so many exciting things for the people who live here, as well as the natural wonders that God gave us to start with. Standing in 2022 and looking back into time, it’s cool to see everything that’s been done. 

We’re also lucky to have a place that other people want to come to and spend some time — and money. That enriches our entire economic ecosphere, from the bigwigs in the newspaper headlines to the hard-working individual behind the cash register. I know it can be tough sometimes to look on those who have the disposable income to come here and take their boat out on the water when most of us are struggling economically, but we all win when those people spend money with us.

And when they’re looking at their options, attention-grabbing ideas like “the 606” help. They really do.

Eastern Kentucky is a beautiful place. It’s home. For most of us, it’s made us who we are. And I’m glad we have entities like Lake Cumberland Tourism out there trying to show the rest of the country how beautiful it is as well.

This Monday — 6-06 — let’s take a moment to appreciate all of what we have in the 606. It’s a great place to call home.

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