Thursday, August 29, 2013

Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland

Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland is one of those attractions that you stumble upon and say "Why didn't I ever hear about this place before?"  Tucked alongside Kentucky's Highway 68 in Calvert City, Apple Valley reminds me of the old fashioned roadside attractions of the 50's and 60's. 

The land here was originally purchased in 1928 by Oral Wallace and consisted of an apple orchard.  Enterprising Oral dubbed his property Apple Valley Orchard and began to sell apples to passersby.  Farmers used his place as a stop-over and by 1931 Oral had built a small store that sold apple cider, which was rumored to include hard cider and moonshine.   Before long he was selling lye soap, serving food and offering barber shop services as well.  By 1939 the store became a Gulf gas station, which continued until 1964. 

The years rolled by and in 2005 Oral's grandson, Keith Holt, inherited the property.  Keith is a former actor, clown and comedian who also happened to have an extensive toy collection.  He returned to Apple Valley with a dream to turn his 3500 item collection into a toy museum reality.  Instead his dream blossomed into a roadside attraction that includes a toy museum, folk art, and a local history museum. 

We were greeted at the parking lot by a bright orange waving piece of art!

Shortly after we climbed from the car, Keith appeared and proceeded to give us a 2 hour guided tour of the property.  His background in entertainment makes him the perfect tour guide.  Don't expect a museum docent, dressed in a suit or period clothing.  Instead, Keith ambled up, long hair flowing, dressed in shorts, bare feet and a broad smile. 

He happily escorted us around the folk art area, delighting us with his quick wit.  All the attractions are created personally by Keith, and each has a story and a pun to accompany it.  Check out some of the interesting and creative displays.....

My favorite part of the tour was the original store/gas station.  Keith has stuffed it to the rafters with local historical items, memorabilia, and treasures from his days as an actor....

I could have easily spent the entire morning inside the store alone.  It was stacked floor to ceiling, with a wide variety of pop cans and bottles, grocery products from days gone by, posters, musical instruments, trains, newspaper clippings, books, magazines and much more. 

Keith knew the stories and history behind everything and he spun tale after tale as he pointed out things on display. 

 Oral's photo and his violin....

Check out these original store signs......

Keith is a self taught artist and painted all the pictures on the property....

Our final stop on the tour was the toy museum.  Again, the building was crammed with thousands of toys, games, lunch boxes and trains which Keith turned on so they ran around the room....

It was fun to pick out the older toys and games that I remembered from my childhood.  I was amazed at the wide variety of stuff he had in there.


2 hours flew by and we totally enjoyed ourselves.  Keith was a gracious and amusing tour guide who certainly knew his local history and had no shortage of stories to share about his days as an actor.  For more information on the Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland, go visit the website which has an extensive background and history of the property.  Here's a link to an article written in the local newspaper.  Be sure to visit their Facebook page as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and urge you to stop by if you're in the area.  Kids in particular will find the place fascinating and adults will enjoy the corny puns and the local history.   Be sure to allow at least 2 hours to walk around the property and visit both buildings.   They are open year round from 8:00 am until dusk.  It's hard to believe, but it's free as well.  They do accept donations to help fund future art projects but at no time was a donation ever solicited. 

I'd like to thank Keith for spending so much time with us and sharing his history and toys with us.


  1. Looks like a fun and interesting place. Have to stop next time we are in the area

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  3. What a great place! And so nice to have a personal tour.

  4. What a great place! I'm sure lots of fun goes on there. Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,Shelia ;)


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