Paducah's positives depend on your preferences

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm writing to you on the other side of a much-needed minivacation.

Last week I took two days off work and created the coveted four-day weekend. The result was a healthy personal epiphany and a trip to Paducah, Ky., that much talked about rival of (or model for) Cape Girardeau's downtown.

What I found, epiphany aside here, is that Paducah's downtown, and its arts and culture scene, aren't necessarily better than Cape Girardeau's, although they are very, very different.

My trip took me to the Carson Center to see Jerry Seinfeld perform. The show was great (what would you expect from the greatest comedian of his generation?), but the Carson Center isn't as good a place to see a show as our own Bedell Performance Hall. Picture the Bedell, multiply its size by two, and you have the Carson Center. You can get a lot closer to the action at the Bedell for a lower price.

And who can say the Bedell can't bring in the big shows when you've got "The Producers" coming Jan. 30?

As for the rest of the downtown, whether you like Cape Girardeau's or Paducah's just depends on what you want out of your downtown.

Want to see a live band on a Thursday night?

In Paducah, you're probably out of luck. Cape Girardeau's live music scene is vibrant, with bands playing four nights a week, even in the dead of winter. In Paducah, I found no trace of live music.

But if you want a tourist destination where you can browse shops and art galleries, Paducah's much more your style. The city's Lowertown district blows Cape Girardeau's downtown away in terms of art gallery choices. And, let's be honest, Paducah's downtown is much more aesthetically pleasing.

So, whether you want to see Cape Girardeau follow Paducah's lead in downtown revitalization is really going to depend on what you want out of your local arts culture. For someone like me, who likes live music above other art forms, Cape Girardeau is far more attractive.

For someone else, that may not be the case. Find out for yourself which one fits you best.

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