Humans of Lexington | Todd Finley

Director Todd Finley

First, tell us about your role with the Berea Artisan Center.
As Executive Director, I oversee all operations of our facility and its 10 acre complex.  It’s a great job because I’m surrounded by so many beautiful things and I get to work with so many talented people.

Tell me about the Berea Artisan Center and why people should stop there when visiting Berea.
The Kentucky Artisan Center is one very few arts and crafts centers in the country. It opened in 2003 as a venue to sell the fine art and crafts of Kentucky artisans. Today, seventeen years later, the Center retails the works of over 850 Kentucky artists and craftsmen.  It is located directly off I-75 at exit 77. Patrons can shop the largest inventory of art and craft in Kentucky, have a bite in our café and explore the many exhibits that change throughout the year.

What is your background and how did you come to work in the artisan center?
I have been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life, owning various enterprises along my way.  I am also an avid photographer both personally and professionally. I have also worked in the retail sector for other companies, operating various parts of their operations.  I was last with Heaven Hill distillery when the opportunity was presented to me to be a part of the Kentucky Artisan Center.  I have always held the Center in the highest regard and could not wait to start a new chapter in my career.

What would be your travel tips for someone that has never been to Berea before?
Berea is a charming small town that will bewitch and entice you with the many things to do and see.  You can do everything here, from hopping to and from the artisan shops and visiting a working artist, to dining in one of the many unique restaurants that would be sure to please the pickiest of palates. You can even hike the pinnacles or visit the Berea College Trace, before collapsing into your bed for an overnight stay at the grand and historic Boone Tavern. 

And now, a bit about you personally so we can get to know you. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Shopping! I love to shop even if it’s just for groceries!

What’s your favorite place on earth?
I live east of London which turns into old country roads and where the mountains of Clay and Knox counties converge at their apex with Laurel.  I take my atv through the family farm and past my great grandfathers old homestead and blacksmith workshop.  It’s about a mile from all civilization and the trees are so tall that even at midday the sun is blotted out so that it seems more like dusk.  There are two large creeks that flow together then fork to create this miniature island in the deep woods. It is on this special little island that I like to explore and meditate on things.  The sounds of the creeks tumbling over rocks and the symphony of all the birds and insects makes all that is wrong in world right once again.

What should be required reading for every human?
The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow.  The book is a great story about family, love, struggle and hardship. I think most of the books message still holds up to this day.

What movie could you watch on an endless loop?
The Help.  It makes me laugh, it also makes me cry, but most importantly it makes me think.

What historical event would you most like to have witnessed?
The Moon landing. 

What is your most prized possession?
A photograph of my grandfather when he was a child pulling an old guitar in his beat up old wagon.

What places or adventures are still on your bucket list?
I would love to visit Alaska and see the glaciers.  I also would love to visit Machu Picchu.

What’s the greatest gift we can give ourselves?
Integrity.

Give us your 3 “must go to” events that take place in Berea and/or the Lexington area?
Try one of the many Learnshops that are held each year by Berea Tourism.  It’s a great opportunity to learn directly from an artist.  The Hot Air Balloon Glow during the Spoonbread festival is another Berea must see.  Also, everyone should visit Old Friends in Georgetown.  It’s a favorite among my out-of-town friends.

What are three awesome go-to spots for entertaining out-of-town guests in Berea and/or the Lexington area?
Take your guests to the Boone Tavern to have a bourbon.  Sip it while rocking on the porch. Your out-of-town friends will love Keeneland in the Spring. Picnic with the Pops is also a favorite among my friends. They travel to Kentucky just so we can go this event together!

What are places you must hit when you’re in Berea?
Check out Weston Glass Studio.  You can often find Michelle Weston there blowing glass and she holds wonderful conversation.  Visit the Berea College Farm store, it’s full of great foods! Everyone, should have a hot brown at the Boone Tavern.

What are five things you must see when you’re in Lexington?
The Headley-Whitney Museum, Kentucky Horse Park, Waveland State Historic Site, Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate, and James E. Pepper Distillery