Making her way home

Annastasia Hicks puts on makeup before leaving home to start her day as general manager of the Ashford Acres Inn, a bed and breakfast and event venue. "The Inn," as its employess refer to it, is an antebellum mansion owned by Annastasia's sister, Sonia Kirkman, who is married to Robert Kirkman, a Cynthiana native and co-creator of "The Walking Dead."

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.”

Annastasia curls her hair before leaving for work.
Annastasia frosts a cake for a wedding and reception scheduled later that day. Wedding days are hectic as staff work to prepare for the ceremony and reception while also welcoming members of the wedding party who are staying at the B&B.
Annastasia shares a meal with Haley Carr, a manager at the inn, during a brief moment of downtime.
Annastasia delivers breakfast to guests staying in the inn's garden suite. Renovations on the original antebellum house were completed in 2016. The business has since added two outbuildings: the garden suite and a large barn-style event space.
Tomi Clifford and Annastasia share a laugh during a Cynthiana-Harrison County Chamber of Commerce meeting. Tomi was instrumental in Annastasia's decision to become involved in Cynthiana's business community, persuading her to join first a community events committee and later the chamber. Annastasia was president of the chamber in 2018.
Annastasia (left) instructs Brooklyn Wilburn, 16, on the placement of dinnerware at a table in the event barn before a wedding. Annastasia says she worries small details of presentation will be missed if she is not present on wedding days.
Annastasia (from left), Kristina Dahl, Cynthiana Mayor James Smith, Kelsey Dahl and James Kleve laugh shortly before James and Kelsey's wedding presided over by the mayor.
Annastasia and her husband, Taylor Peoples, prepare dinner at their home in Cynthiana. The two met in college and married in June 2019.
Annastasia takes a brief moment to watch a wedding ceremony before going inside to give final instructions to her staff for the reception.