Melissa Shepherd, costume shop coordinator and adjunct professor.  
Melissa Shepherd, costume shop coordinator and adjunct professor.  

The Kentucky State Fair has once again opened its gates under the sweltering August sun and a strong UofL presence can be found throughout the Expo Center grounds.

Black lace dress – 2015 1st place winner by James Coomer, who was then a senior

Not only will UofL health care providers be offering services through Aug. 27, but UofL’s Theatre Arts Department costume shop will also once again sponsor two categories in the Textile Division of the fair competition. The shop has been doing this for more than a decade under the leadership of Melissa Shepherd, costume shop coordinator and adjunct professor.  

The textile competition features participants from all over the state, including UofL students. In the past, Shepherd has required that students participate in a category that she doesn’t judge.

“When we did that, we had a very successful year. The costume shop was fully represented and every student won something in their category,” she said.

Students who participate are able to keep their projects for their graduate school portfolios.

Not only has this involvement been a benefit for UofL students, it has also worked as a nice

Green apron by Amy Davis was the 2015 4th place winner

recruitment tool, Shepherd said.

“We always get submissions from all over the state, so this is a good way for us to see what specific talent is out there that would fit UofL,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd’s supervisor, resident costume designer Zhanna Goldentul, has supported the project every year it has been a part of the Theatre Department.

In addition to managing the costume shop and serving as an adjunct faculty member, Shepherd also serves as the costume designer for the traveling Repertory Company. She is also one of the directors of the Rep Company, working with existing scripts or devising original work to take into local elementary schools throughout the year.

When not at UofL, Shepherd works as a performer for local theater groups, including Stage One Children’s Theater and Center Stage at the JCC. She is a graduate of UofL’s Theatre Arts Department, earning an MFA in Performance in 2001.

Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.