Annastasia Hicks is awake before the sun rises most mornings. She has to arrive at work in time to prepare breakfast for her guests at the Ashford Acres Inn, a bed and breakfast and event venue located just outside of downtown in a 19th–century manor house.
On this day "the inn," as its employees refer to it, has a wedding booked. After making breakfast, Annastasia oversees the preparations for the ceremony and reception, ensures the grocery order for the weekend guests is completed, then assembles and decorates the wedding cake.
As the wedding begins, Annastasia watches the ceremony taking place on the antebellum mansion’s columned front porch for only a few minutes before returning to the kitchen to ensure her staff is prepared for the reception. Then she heads home for Halloween night and dinner with her husband, Taylor Peoples, other family and friends.
A Cynthiana native, Annastasia did not plan on coming home after leaving for college. She planned on going to law school and becoming a prosecutor.
After graduating from Centre College in 2015, Annastasia had a change of heart.
“I called my sister and said, ‘I’m not going to be a lawyer. I’m going to buy a place in Danville, Kentucky, and make it an event venue.'”
However, her sister, Sonia Kirkman, had a different idea. Sonia, the wife of "The Walking Dead" co-creator and Cynthiana native Robert Kirkman, purchased a historic home on Pike Street and persuaded Annastasia, who was living in Danville, to return to Cynthiana during the day to help with the inn. After a year and a half of renovations, the inn opened in November 2016.
As Annastasia grew busier with the B&B, she gradually made her way home, moving first to Lexington, then Georgetown, and finally to a home near downtown Cynthiana in June 2017. She immersed herself in the community, first joining a community events committee, then the Chamber of Commerce, serving as president in 2018.
“I wanted to be more involved. If I was going to be at Ashford Acres, I needed to know more about the community,” she says.
Reflecting on her initial reluctance to return home, Annastasia says, “Life in Lexington is convenient in that it has most everything you want (to do).” She says she no longer believes the life she left home to seek is unavailable in Cynthiana. Instead, she is working to promote those same types of opportunities here in Harrison County. She's home to stay.
"I would never give up the inn anyway," she says. “It’s become a family place.”