Va. historic area explores religion

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Colonial Williamsburg is exploring the role of religion in the creation of America.

The historic attraction will explore the topic during events throughout April.

Officials say the ideas fostered by the American War of Independence revolutionized the relationship between faith and government by allowing the free exercise of religion.

The events include a discussion on the relationship between church and state and the views of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.

Information on several other events can be found at www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Kentucky distillery expands visitor center

VERSAILLES, Ky. - The Woodford Reserve Distillery is greeting tourists with an expanded and renovated visitor center in central Kentucky.

Brown-Forman Corp., owner of Woodford Reserve bourbon, invested more than $1.9 million into the 7,500-square-foot visitor center near Versailles.

Enhancements include a dedicated tasting room, updates to retail shops, new displays and other improvements.

Last year, about 130,000 people visited the distillery in Woodford County.

Gov. Steve Beshear says the expansion will increase the popularity of one of Kentucky's signature products.

Spy Museum eyes fact, fiction of 'Americans'

WASHINGTON - Museum visitors in Washington are getting a look at real Soviet-era spy gear compared with props from TV's spy drama "The Americans."

The International Spy Museum has a new exhibit about the Soviet Union's intelligence services during the Cold War. "The Americans: Fact and Fantasy" includes real spy gear recovered from missions similar to the story depicted on TV. The exhibit runs through May.

In the show, two Soviet KGB officers pose as a suburban family on an undercover mission. Such Soviet spies were known by the Russians as "illegals."

Museum Executive Director Peter Earnest, a former CIA spy, says "illegals" are real. But in reality they wouldn't be as active as the characters on TV. More often they were deployed on extended missions with long periods of inactivity.

Cherry blossoms reach peak bloom on target

WASHINGTON - The National Park Service says Washington's cherry blossom trees have reached peak bloom this week as predicted.

The park service says the trees reached peak bloom Thursday. That means at least 70 percent of the trees around the Tidal Basin are blossoming with pink and white flowers.

This year's peak bloom comes slightly later than average due to cold weather. The average bloom date since 1992 is March 31. Last year they reached peak bloom on April 9. The trees bloomed as late as April 18 in 1958. Park officials had predicted a peak bloom this year between April 8 and April 12.

The Yoshino cherry trees usually bloom for several days. The length of the blooming period depends on the weather.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs through today.

Associated Press