Lauren Mink Frazer doing what she loves -- patronizing two Winchester icons: The Engine House, and Ale-8.
Lauren Mink Frazer doing what she loves — patron­iz­ing two Winchester icons: The Engine House and Ale‑8.

It isn’t easy get­ting Lauren Mink Frazer to talk about her­self. Ask a per­son­al ques­tion, and the answer she gives will gen­er­al­ly cir­cle back to her favorite top­ic: Winchester. Or, as she likes to call it, “Funchester.”

I recent­ly sat down with Lauren over lunch at The Engine House for an inter­view. It was dur­ing Beer Cheese Food Week, and we both enjoyed their spe­cial (“Rough & Ready Pizza Cone Megaphone”) washed down with – what else? – cold Ale‑8.

One of the first things I asked her about was how “Funchester” came about.

“It start­ed off with me notic­ing peo­ple call­ing our town ‘Suck-Chester.’ They’re like, ‘there’s noth­ing hap­pen­ing here.’ To me, that’s a load of BS — there’s always some­thing hap­pen­ing! I hate that kind of negativity.”

So, Lauren did what Lauren does: she decid­ed to do some­thing. She want­ed to change the per­cep­tion that there’s noth­ing to do in Winchester. She start­ed a social media cam­paign, began scour­ing the Internet and social media for week­end activ­i­ties, and start­ed post­ing a com­pendi­um of activ­i­ties each Thursday for the com­ing week­end. She called it “This Weekend in #Funchester.”

She says, “I real­ized that lots of the busi­ness own­ers aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly their best hype peo­ple. And they’re not always good about get­ting out the word or know­ing how to use social media. This is just me search­ing as much as I pos­si­bly can to pull things togeth­er. There are weeks when there aren’t fes­ti­vals and major things hap­pen­ing. So I try to come up with some cre­ative things because, as a mom, I’m try­ing to think in terms of ‘what are we doing this week­end?’ So for the Funchester thing, I just want­ed to prove peo­ple wrong.”

Juggling roles

When Lauren isn’t busy being the hype girl for Winchester, she’s tend­ing to her oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties: as a wife and moth­er of two, an insur­ance agent at Clark County Farm Bureau Insurance, her blog Love the Bluegrass, and her role as a tal­ent­ed vocal­ist who is very much in demand around the region. She even tried out for the tele­vi­sion show American Idol a cou­ple of times, impress­ing the judges so much in sea­son 12 that she came with­in one night of mak­ing it to the live show.

“I made it all through the entire Hollywood week. And then they had to elim­i­nate two girls for the live tele­vi­sion part. I was one of the two girls cho­sen [to be cut.]”

These days, you can find Lauren on stage at many Central Kentucky venues. She’s excit­ed about a brand new music series she had a part in putting togeth­er: Legacy Nights at the Legacy Grove Park. 

“A small part,” she empha­sized. “I’m on a com­mit­tee and they are real­ly doing a lot of the work.

“I asked myself, what can fam­i­lies do here? Instead of hav­ing to go to Lexington or Paris or Richmond? Can we take some of the ideas that they’re doing? Why can’t we make that hap­pen here —  like the Legacy Nights that we’re doing out at Legacy Grove. We had hun­dreds of peo­ple there — it shows that peo­ple were ready for some­thing like that. So cre­at­ing more such events that fam­i­lies can do togeth­er in a safe atmos­phere and be all-inclusive.”

Last win­ter, when it was announced that there would be no Winchester Christmas parade, Lauren again stepped in. When I asked her about that, she talked more about the peo­ple who worked behind the scenes to pull off a last-minute parade. But make no mis­take – Lauren was the dri­ving force behind the parade.

I do say this is sort of like Mayberry, like a place you see on TV shows. I grew up here and I just want peo­ple to see the ‘Mayberry side’ of Winchester that I see.

“I mean, it was short. It was sweet. Like no fluff. I talked to a few peo­ple that had done it in years past – what worked and what did­n’t work. What did peo­ple argue about, because I don’t want any of the dra­ma — we lit­er­al­ly had a cou­ple of weeks to pull this off. I had a few peo­ple help me that had done [the parade] before. Then I called up my list of what I call the ‘doers’ — the peo­ple who you ask… and they get stuff done. Everyone ral­lied behind me and we got it done.”

When speak­ing with Lauren, it’s always abun­dant­ly clear that, despite hav­ing her hand in so many com­mu­ni­ty projects, she is not in it for the glo­ry. She tru­ly lives and breathes Winchester. She wants to make this com­mu­ni­ty the best it can be – even to make it the envy of oth­er towns in the region.

“Oh yeah, I want oth­er cities to be jeal­ous of what’s hap­pen­ing here! We have to cre­ate more things to make peo­ple want to stay here and be involved here. Like this beer cheese food week. Or like our Winchester Young Professionals that Alyshia Martin and I found­ed together.

“Everyone always laughs but I do say this is sort of like Mayberry, like a place you see on TV shows. I grew up here and I want peo­ple to see the ‘Mayberry side’ of Winchester that I see. Maybe I see it with rose-col­ored glass­es. I do know there are [things that aren’t so Mayberry-esque] going on. But I’d like for every­body to see it through my rose-col­ored lens­es. Being raised here, I thought it was a sort of mag­i­cal town.

“I went to mid­dle school and high school in Lexington. And it was so dif­fer­ent. You did­n’t know every­body — you bare­ly knew every­body in your school. Then I would come home and I would know everybody.”

A future in politics?

At one point in the con­ver­sa­tion, Lauren star­tled me with an off-hand revelation.

“I love doing things out in the com­mu­ni­ty. My dad was always out in the com­mu­ni­ty, doing things, and I saw him giv­ing back in that way. I just always sort of knew that that’s what I was going to do.

“Like maybe being the mayor — ”

Wait, I inter­ject, you want to be may­or of Winchester? 

She laughs.

“I can not be the may­or… not right now. Maybe when I’m like 60 years old. And I know it’s a big job…”

I point out that it might be a great fit for her. In a town such as Winchester, which is run by a city man­ag­er, the may­or can be the “hype person.”

“Right,” she responds. “I’d love that aspect of it. I think of [retir­ing Mayor Ed Burtner] who has gone so far. He’s gone above and beyond and made it his full-time-times-three job. He’s every­where! I even told him the oth­er day, ‘you real­ize when you’re not [offi­cial­ly] may­or, you’re still going to be may­or to a lot of us. Because you are Winchester’s hype per­son.’ He likes to say Winchester is the heart of Kentucky. And I love that.”

Trying to get her to talk more about her­self, I asked her what it’s like per­form­ing on stage. But she quick­ly made it about her fam­i­ly. And her band.

“I mean, that’s my stress relief. Working in insur­ance every sin­gle day isn’t super glam­orous. I love being in my office and chat­ting with peo­ple and get­ting to know them — and that’s why I love insur­ance. But then you need some­thing fun to do. Singing is some­thing that I’ve had to real­ly work on — my life/music bal­ance. Before my kids came along, I would say ‘yes’ to all the things. Now, it’s got to be some­thing pret­ty good to get me away from my kids. And I know as the years go on, I’m going to be doing less music because they’ll have all the sports tour­na­ments and all oth­er things hap­pen­ing. And I want to be there for those things.

“But I do love per­form­ing! And I’m lucky that I play with some of the best musi­cians. I mean the best! And they’re not big partiers on any­thing. They’re seri­ous about their work.”

What does Lauren do just for herself?

“I love work­ing out at the Om Place. That is my release. I go and work out with some ladies down there, and it’s awe­some. I love to read and I love to knit. Most peo­ple in my fam­i­ly get some sort of knit­ted gift for Christmas. And hon­est­ly, I like the things that I find for Funchester. I’ve loved find­ing some­thing fun to do in my home­town — and then shar­ing it with every­body else in hopes that they will sup­port those busi­ness­es. That is what I love.”

It’s very clear that Lauren Mink loves Winchester. And Winchester loves her.

  • On stage with her band
  • With a little friend
  • Rockin' it out!
  • With the family

  • Pete Koutoulas

    Pete is an IT pro­fes­sion­al work­ing in Lexington. Formerly of Campton, he and his wife have lived in Winchester since 2015. Pete is a for­mer week­ly news­pa­per pub­lish­er and for­mer colum­nist for the Winchester Sun. These days, when not work­ing he can often be found on his back porch read­ing or writ­ing, in the back­yard tend­ing to his toma­to plants, or put­ter­ing around in his garage or work­shop. Reach Pete at pete@wincitynews.org.