MARCHING TO OWN BEAT. It’s been five years since the annual Heartland Festival ended, but its namesake parade still is thriving.

In its 32-year history, the festival went from a new delight with hot-air balloons diving toward Freeman Lake and abounding with activity to a declining attraction that the city events staff shuttered after accepting the event when it was orphaned by the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.

During its heyday, the festival was listed among Kentucky’s top 10 things to do and a key element was the parade.

Thanks to committed organizers and volunteers, the fourth weekend in August remains a time to celebrate in Elizabethtown. Now known as the Heartland Homecoming Parade, it lives on and provided another rousing success.

This year’s event also was blessed with ideal weather as opposed to typical August heat.

But its late August date also is a key reason West Dixie Avenue is lined four deep with spectators each year. Because it occurs after school starts but before the marching band season begins, Heartland traditionally has attracted all the area high school bands. Their continued participation augments the floats, politicians, tractors and fire trucks common to other area parades and makes this annual event stand out.

LARUE COUNTY’S BEST. Voters in Kentucky Living magazine’s annual Best in Kentucky awards appreciate LaRue County and especially The Sweet Shoppe and Dessert Cafe, which was named the state’s top sweet spot.

The store’s famous fudge, which comes in 28 flavors, also placed third in a list of Made in Kentucky products — behind two Kentucky legends Ale-8-1 soda and Maker’s Mark bourbon.

LaRue County gems recognized in other categories include Lincoln Museum, Lincoln Days, Arrowhead BBQ, Laha’s Red Castle and Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market. Hometown Pizza, which is based in LaGrange, won the best pizza voting and one of its 18 locations is in Hodgenville.

All in all, LaRue Coun­tians should be very happy with the magazine’s September edition.

P.S. Congratulations to the Hardin County Farmers’ Market and Glendale Crossing Festival for being among the honorees when the list was announced at the Ken­tucky State Fair.

LOCAL STAR IS BORN. For the second time, Michael J. Thomas made it to the top of a Billboard chart.

The Cecilia native’s smooth jazz version of “I’ll Never Love Again,” popularized by Lady Gaga in the movie remake of “A Star is Born,” is No. 1 on the national airplay list. Thomas had a previous No. 1 in December 2017 with “Baby Coffee.”

Thomas, who now lives in Destin, Florida, plays smooth jazz instrumental music on his soprano saxophone. He said jazz clicked for him when he improvised a version of the Jimi Hendrix song “Purple Haze” during band class at Central Hardin High School.

It’s exciting to see local talent succeed, even in a specialized genre off the radar of most radio listeners. If you want to familiarize yourself with this local talent tune to Sirius XM’s Watercolors channel or look for Thomas’ music on iTunes, Amazon and similar digital music sites.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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