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View Full Version : TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival



mrviognier
06-07-2011, 12:51
I've always felt that attending the KBF is tantamount to going to New Orleans during Mardis Gras. Many who have attended have confirmed this notion. But it seems that - for many on this board - it's an annual "must".

So, okay...convince me. Why should I attend?

Thanks in advance for your input.

DeanSheen
06-07-2011, 13:09
I've always felt that attending the KBF is tantamount to going to New Orleans during Mardis Gras. Many who have attended have confirmed this notion. But it seems that - for many on this board - it's an annual "must".

So, okay...convince me. Why should I attend?

Thanks in advance for your input.

I go to see these guys, but some of them bring their girls so I get to see them too. And there are a few girls that are members so there is that.

I do like having to do nothing but drink and BS for a few days. It's a pretty tough assignment and I wouldn't come unless you were sure you could handle that kind of responsibility.

craigthom
06-07-2011, 13:51
Other than the fact that rooms may be hard to find in Bardstown during the event, I don't think there's any similarity with Mardis Gras. No parades, no beads, no coconuts, no drunken crowds (or big sober crowds, for that matter).

I've never paid for the formal event, so I can't review that. The barrel rolling contest is fun to watch and doesn't last long. There's about an hour's worth of entertainment wandering among the tents.

There's some live music, but there hasn't been anyone I want to see.

I really see no similarity with Mardis Gras, unless there's some boring, uncrowded, quiet part of Mardi Gras I missed.

The best events are not part of but are concurrent with the festival, and they are pretty small. I attended the tasting competition once and have spent some time at the gazebo.

mrviognier
06-07-2011, 14:10
Sorry...did not mean to be taken literally. I meant that it might be similar in that the event crowds the streets with a bunch of amateurs.

TomH
06-07-2011, 15:36
IMHO, going for the "official" event is not high on my list. The only official event that I really enjoy is the barrel racing. My wife does enjoy the gala, but it is now on our skip list with its outrageous price (good event if you can get comped by one of the distilleries).

The only reason we go is that a lot of our friends gather in Bardstown at that time, so we go to socialize with them and drink a lot of good whiskeys. The gazebo is definitely not an amateur event.

Tom

cowdery
06-07-2011, 15:43
I went to the KBF the first couple years of its existence. It was, for the most part, a snore. I didn't go for ten years, until people on this board started to talk about it as a meet up opportunity. That's when the whole General Nelson/Gazebo thing evolved, in 2000 and 2001.

Coming so soon after 9/11, the 2001 event was surreal. Only people who drove could even get there. A couple of distilleries pulled out. But the weather was perfect and the atmosphere was very kind and solicitous. People were being preternaturally nice to each other.

I believe I have attended every year since.

That said, I attend very few official events. I went to the 'gala' once. Awful. I've gone to the Four Roses breakfast several times. It's very good, there's just no point in going to it every year because it's always essentially the same. I usually go to the barrel rolling competition on Saturday morning. It's great.

The only part of the festival that kind of looks like a festival takes place Friday and Saturday on the grounds of Spaulding Hall, spilling over to an adjacent city park. Spaulding Hall holds the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. In front of Spaulding is where all of the participating distilleries have their booths. They sell souvenirs -- t-shirts and such -- no whiskey. There are usually some of the distillers around.

There are also a lot of other booths; craftspeople, community groups, local and not-so-local businesses. Bourbon Barrel Foods, for example, has a booth. They sell this awesome soy sauce aged in used bourbon barrels. The local show car club sets up. The Army is there recruiting. There is a stage with live music. There is a midway with carny rides and carny food.

It's exactly like a thousand other Midwestern community festivals.

One of the worst abominations of the official festival is the "Spirit Garden," a fenced in, shade-free baseball field, exactly like the soccer stadium holding pens that are used when totalitarian governments round up protesters during anti-government demonstrations. You have to buy strips of tickets that you can then use to buy drinks, served in plastic glasses. There's very little seating.

It's how I imagine the bars are in hell.

They also sell Bud Light and more people drink that than bourbon. In another absurdist touch, they absolutely refuse to serve rye whiskey at this or any other official festival event.

But especially if the weather is pleasant, I enjoy hanging out on the 'festival grounds' for a few hours, though not in the Spirit Garden.

In the evening, the Gazebo cranks up and goes into the wee hours. That's the highlight of the festival.

mrviognier
06-07-2011, 16:16
Thanks, all, for the input. IMHO a bar without Rye is a Bar in Hell. :grin:

So, tell me a little more about the Gazebo...

camduncan
06-07-2011, 16:23
Thanks, all, for the input. IMHO a bar without Rye is a Bar in Hell. :grin:

So, tell me a little more about the Gazebo...

Bourbon (and Rye) Heaven...... :grin:

jeff
06-07-2011, 16:32
Wow, I remember the 2001 festival. It was our first, mostly on a whim, to take our minds off the trauma of the terrorist attacks. Chuck is right, it was surreal. Everyone was very pleasant, but what I remember most was how quiet it was; not because it was fewer people, but that the people who were there were not talking. I didn't know anyone in this group personally yet, and all we did were a couple of the official events and walked the booths.

Ian S.
06-07-2011, 17:38
I too am on the fence with this one.

Josh
06-07-2011, 17:56
I've only been once. I agree with Chuck's assessment of the Festival itself. But the joys of the Gazebo outweigh the lameness of many of the festival activities. Plus, it's a great opportunity to tour distilleries, drive by old distilleries and take advantage of the many great liquor stores Kentucky has to offer.

BourbonJoe
06-07-2011, 18:59
I much prefer the Sampler mostly because there are far fewer people in town and the Gazebo is just as much fun in the spring as it is in the fall.
Joe :usflag:

craigthom
06-07-2011, 20:39
I didn't take offense; I was just pointing out that, if you think it is anything remotely like Mardi Gras, you have been misinformed. Unless you mean Mardi Gras in some small town, not New Orleans. There's amazingly little drinking going out. As Chuck said, the only place you can buy bourbon is a little fenced-off area that I have never entered.

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is not a big event. There are not crowds of people on the street, amateur or otherwise. It's more like, as Chuck pointed out, any other small town festival. There's no more or less drinking involved. It's a kid-friendly event.

Chuck reminded me that I did buy my first bottle of Bluegrass Soy Sauce (http://bourbonbarrelfoods.com/shop/sauces/bluegrass-soy-sauce-32-fl-oz) at the festival. They've got a range of other products now, too, but the soy sauce is something special. It's made in Kentucky and aged in used bourbon barrels.

I also picked up a T-shirt from Independent Stave. I don't remember finding anything of interest at most of the other tents/shacks. I once had the bourbon pancake with bourbon butter and bourbon syrup breakfast, or whatever it is, and it was overpriced and underimpressive.

Lost Pollito
06-07-2011, 21:58
If you haven't been, I think you should go. I thought it was fantastic. The Gazeebo is worth the effort.

barturtle
06-07-2011, 23:41
Wow, I remember the 2001 festival. It was our first, mostly on a whim, to take our minds off the trauma of the terrorist attacks. Chuck is right, it was surreal. Everyone was very pleasant, but what I remember most was how quiet it was; not because it was fewer people, but that the people who were there were not talking. I didn't know anyone in this group personally yet, and all we did were a couple of the official events and walked the booths.

I was there that year, I had gone to the Gala, even though my date had cancelled on me. I stayed at the GN, and heard some people back in the darkness as I stumbled back to my hotel room.:grin:

troyce
06-10-2011, 14:54
Thanks, all, for the input. IMHO a bar without Rye is a Bar in Hell. :grin:

So, tell me a little more about the Gazebo...

Can't really describe the place, or experience.

Bourbon Boiler
06-12-2011, 08:14
Can't really describe the place, or experience.

When I was in Bardstown last weekend with some friends, I drove them to the GN just to show off the Gazebo. I've never been, but I've been on this forum long enough to know that it's a must-see when in Bardstown.

T Comp
06-28-2011, 10:08
So, tell me a little more about the Gazebo...


Can't really describe the place, or experience.

At times strange lights have been seen in the distance and a spell has come over the crowd :lol: .

http://www.burgersphoto.com/Other/Kentucky-Bourbon-Trail/i-RRDKTPb/0/M/IMG9545-M.jpg (http://www.burgersphoto.com/Other/Kentucky-Bourbon-Trail/16925897_WPGNBQ#1280444166_RRDKTPb)

Josh
06-28-2011, 10:29
I remember that moment. I think it was a tractor Beam. Or a sleep ray. It had different effects on different SB members.

12411

DeanSheen
06-28-2011, 11:18
I remember that moment. I think it was a tractor Beam. Or a sleep ray. It had different effects on different SB members.

12411

Is Amy sleeping standing up? Neat trick.

bonneamie
06-30-2011, 20:37
with a glass in my hand too. very neat trick.

MissinER101
06-30-2011, 21:03
I couldn't make the sampler and planned on hitting the Festival instead BUT.......


We are in the process of moving to Grand Junction Colorado [7th heaven smilie]

So I guess making the hodge to Bourbon Mecca is out for a while.

StraightNoChaser
07-01-2011, 10:17
Based on this thread it sounds like I wouldn't miss much of interest by not going.

Whiskey Fest, on the other hand...

craigthom
07-01-2011, 18:32
Based on this thread it sounds like I wouldn't miss much of interest by not going.

Whiskey Fest, on the other hand...

I don't think you read the right parts.

TomH
07-02-2011, 11:04
Based on this thread it sounds like I wouldn't miss much of interest by not going.

Whiskey Fest, on the other hand...

WhiskeyFest - Great selection of current whisk(e)y...very heavily tilted toward scotch, but the major bourbon players are well represented. The downside is that the best items are available for only 1 hour so you want to taste quite a few that first hour and after that I find my palette is pretty dead. You are also tasting in a crowded mass of whisk(e)y freaks and that while you can have quick chats with friends you see, it is not an atmosphere that's great for socializing. Finally the overall concentrated time frame (4 hours VIP - 3 hours regualar) has been known to lead some folks over the edge of intoxication as they try to sample as many items as possible

Bourbon Fest - Great selection of whiskies at the gazebo (current and dusties) with a few bottles from dark side making an appearance. Actual Fest events range from lame (spirit garden) to overpriced (The Gala) to fun and unique (barrel racing). However, the attraction (at least for me) is the chance to drink great whisk(e)y in a leisurely manner and socialize with great friends over the course of a few days.

I regularly attend both events and plan to attend them in the future (though I will occasionally will skip one of the other depending on my current mood and plans). The big tastings (WhiskeyFest, the Indy Spirit Festival, etc) are nice to getting to taste a few things that I can't find otherwise or taste some newer items (or pre-release items). I enjoy doing these once or twice a year. OTOH, drinking great whisk(e) with great friends is something that I will do whenever possible.

Tom

p_elliott
07-03-2011, 02:44
Tom hit right on it, Bourbon festival to me is all about getting to spend a few days doing bourbon activities with my good friends. Be it going to the distilleries, out to dinner or best of all sitting around the gazebo drinking incredible whiskies, and let's not forget the porch at Doug and Barbs more great food and more incredible whiskies. The Distillery tours never get old to me because we always have new members that have never seen them before. It's fun to watch them see them for the first time and experience that with them.

StraightNoChaser
07-03-2011, 10:44
I feel a little noobish for the Gazeebo... :lol:

Josh
07-05-2011, 09:09
I feel a little noobish for the Gazeebo... :lol:

Jack and Greg did just fine at the Sampler:cool:

12464

No better crash course (hopefully not literally) in the world of bourbon exists outside of the Gazebo!