View Full Version : Site of Future Festivals

09-30-2001, 09:17
During the recent Kentucky Bourbon Fest, some merchants said the 2002 event may be moved from Bardstown to Louisville, where it would presumably attract more sponsors and participants.

Maybe so, but no bourbon festival would be complete without scheduled events or visits to Spalding Hall / Oscar Getz Museum.

Let's take a quick poll. Are you in favor of moving the festival or keeping it where it is?


09-30-2001, 14:21
I have never been to the Bourbon Festival. (I plan to go in 2002.) But, from my experience, making something bigger rarely makes it better. Unless the festival is drawing crowds too large for Bardstown to handle, then it should stay where it is. My guess is the festival would lose its "soul" if moved to Louisville.


09-30-2001, 14:53
Omar there was a lot of talk concerning Bardstown and the Bourbon Festival. Some people make some very good money, while others that do not derive any income from the tourist trade would glad to be rid of it.

The very last place I'd want the B-Fest to be is in Louisville. If the good people of Bardstown Kentucky are unhappy with the Bourbon Festival, then I suggest that it be moved to Happy Little Stuart's Draft Virginia. I do believe that we have more stills per capita than does Bardstown.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

10-01-2001, 09:17
I believe SpeedyJohn said it well. Part of the charm of the Ky Bourbon Festival is holding it in a beautiful small town in Kentucky. Indeed I think it would be 'lost' and 'lose its soul' in Louisville.


10-01-2001, 10:37
Hell would freeze first before that would happen.


10-01-2001, 11:50
As I understand it, some of the distillers are unhappy about what they perceive as a Bardstown Community Festival being funded by the distillers. There is a lot to that criticism. Boone is right, though, about hell freezing over before the festival will be moved. The festival is effectively "owned" by the Bardstown Tourism Bureau, so there is no way they will "move" it anywhere. There is, however, a chance that some or all of the distillers will reduce or eliminate their financial support, which would effectively kill it. I think some of the criticism is on target. I think a lively discussion of what's wrong, and what's right, about the festival is in order.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

10-01-2001, 14:50
Chuck I think one of the best things about the festival is Bardstown itself. I like it very much and feel right at home there. Bardstown is also a good central location for day trips to the various distillerys. It's a shame that Barton doesn't offer some special little tour at Festival time. It seems to me that the distillers could be more outgoing in promoting their bourbons.Buffalo Trace certainly has the right idea in their very proactive approach to the festival. In general it seems to me that very little thought is given towards the out of state bourbon enthusiasts that come to the Bourbon Festival.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

10-01-2001, 15:33

It's my understanding that the bourbon festival office is autonomous from Bardstown tourism. If the venue changes, the staff would follow along.

Louisville isn't the only city that wants the bourbon festival -- so does Frankfort. And while it seems unlikely the fest would be taken from Bardstown, don't be surprised if Louisville or Frankfort start a competing event.

Here's an unofficial copy of the act designating the official state bourbon fest.

WHEREAS, the Kentucky Bourbon festival held annually in Bardstown, KY on the third weekend of September is the first and oldest Kentucky bourbon festival, having been established in 1991; and

WHEREAS, the Bardstown festival equally showcases all Kentucky distilleries and related industries for domestic and international visitors and press, with the 1999 festival attracting people from 20 states and 10 foreign countries; and

WHEREAS, in addition to demonstrating the use of bourbon and bourbon by-products in cooking, agriculture and aquaculture, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival provides food, arts and crafts, a variety of musical events and an ever-increasing number of additional activities for children and adults that serve to promote the Commonwealth of Kentucky ; and

WHEREAS, the proceeds from the Kentucky Bourbon festival have benefited numerous nonprofit organizations and schools....


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Incorporated, of Bardstown, Kentucky, is named and designated the OFFICIAL state bourbon festival.

-- Festival organizers say the 2001 event did quite well despite the loss of international and some domestic tourists. All events sold out with the exception of the gala (1,000 attendees, 200 no shows). Merchants on the grounds reported sales as good as, or better than the past year. And the auction, according to Mike, also topped previous highs.

Personally, I think Bardstown is hard to beat -- quaint, with a whiskey museum, lots of history, good restaurants, concert grounds, friendly people and easy access to interstates and nearby distilleries. All things considered, it is the epicenter of bourbon country.


10-01-2001, 16:38
If distillers support the Ky Bourbon Festival it would seem they should be getting something from it. But the question to me is, what do they want from it? Is it public relations? Is it a showcase? Do they want a venue for employees to party? Do they know what they want?

I agree that if the distillers want more public relations they could go the extra mile to provide special distillery trips, etc.

Rather than competing events in Frankfort or Louisville perhaps some special events could take place there - even on Friday or Sunday.

To me Bardstown is quaint with lot of bourbon heritage in one spot. If attracting people like us is of value to the industry they've done a good job.

On a whim I went to Bardstown while driving through the state just last year. I found out about the bourbon festival and came back for it. I'm now far more into bourbon than I was at that time. Had I not discovered Bardstown I'd have saved more money in the last year -- not only on travel, but on the bourbons I bought just because I was attracted to the great American spirit through a visit to a charming part of its home country.


10-01-2001, 17:59
For my .2cts worth, i agree with with Chuck and Omar!--life is good--den.

10-02-2001, 09:07
"It's my understanding that the bourbon festival office is autonomous from Bardstown tourism. If the venue changes, the staff would follow along."

While technically true it is, as a practical matter, a Bardstown event. Many of its problems are a function of the way politics work in a small town. Everybody knows everybody else, everybody is related, etc.

The only way the festival could "move" would be if a competing entity set up a competing event and won away distiller financial support. The festival probably could not and would not continue without distiller money. A move is unlikely to happen unless the Bardstown group self-destructs, a real possibility.

What I see is, in effect, three different festivals. One is the Bardstown community festival that has little or nothing to do with bourbon, another is the series of events -- primarily for press and the trade -- put on by the distilleries, another is the museum and its events -- the heritage panel and auction. In many ways, the three are in conflict with each other.

I do think the official planners are giving insufficient consideration to out-of-towners in general, in favor of putting on a party for themselves and their neighbors. Here are some simple but, I think, telling examples. Where are the banners all over town that say "Welcome Bourbon Festival"? There wasn't even a sign or banner at the Spaulding Hall grounds welcoming people to the festival. Similarly, there were signs at the parking lot telling you who was sponsoring the parking, but no sign that said "festival parking." The locals, of course, know where to park. The out-of-towners? Who cares?

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

10-02-2001, 17:12
I wholeheartedly agree with you about the three different festivals. And there really is something "in the air" during the festival that leaves you with the feeling that you've "crashed" someone else's party. There might be some justification, too. Having grown up in a small town in semi-rural California (yes, most of California is NOT Hollywood or San Francisco), I can certainly relate to how the Bardstown citizens might feel. We used to celebrate "Ranchero Days", which was really just the local society folks congratulating each other and pretending they were all descendants of Spanish colonists (many really were, of course). But it was a colorful celebration that attracted the movie set and by the time I was old enough to remember it had turned into some kind of invasion of rude people from New York who had no time for us nobodies.

Celebrating the bourbon festival at the blue-collar level, as we usually do, we don't really notice much of that. But if you attend the more dressy affairs (and I really do recommend that everyone try to make the black tie gala one year -- you probably won't do it again, but it's really worth it once) you can readily see the same kind of attitude. Folks like Julian Van Winkle and Lincoln Henderson, who are comfortable in any venue, probably don't even notice it, but the less-sophisticated (and I include myself in that number) are very aware.

I think the Kentucky Bourbon Festival started out quite different from what it's become. This was the fourth that Linda and I have seen, just under half of them. I imagine Boone has seen 'em all; maybe she can give us outsiders a native's view of what the festival is all about, how it was when it started, and what it's future might be...

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>