In rural Kentucky, solar eclipse preparation keeps town busy

In this June 7, 2017 photo, vehicles drive through Hopkinsville, Ky. This town is considered the epicenter of the first total solar eclipse to sweep across the United States in 99 years on Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)

The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 99 years has heightened anticipation and excitement in small, rural towns of southwestern Kentucky.

With 32,000 people, Hopkinsville is nearest the point of greatest eclipse. At 1:24 p.m. Aug. 21, the moon will pass in front of the sun and cast darkness over the rolling farmland, plunging it into darkness for 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Tens of thousands will watch the eclipse from Hopkinsville—estimates reach 100,000 people from as far as Japan and South Africa.

One shop owner says she’ll camp at work instead of risking traffic, though the city requested National Guard help on roads. The airport is being upgraded. The mayor says Hopkinsville residents are ready and excited to host eclipse-chasers from around the world.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.