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This was on the front page of my hometown paper (The Kentucky Standard).
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival was $140,000 in debt, but it is being bailed out by the city and county.
In June, the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist and Convention Commission gave the festival board a $17,000 grant to retire a portion of the debt.
The grant was given to keep the Bourbon Festival Board and the tourist commission out of the courts. A vendor had threatned to collect through a lawsuit if it was not paid.
Although the grant kept the boards out of the court system for the time being it did not take care of the outstanding debts for the 1999 Bourbon Festival.
Mismanagement of funds was blamed for the overspending during the festival.
Vision Works from Prospect put on the 1999 Bourbon Festival.
"They spent more money than was raised," Tourist Commission member Bill Coleman said.
They took $400,000 to put on a $200,000 festival. That's exactly what they did.
Coleman was the chairman of the tourism commission and the bourbon festival during the 1999 year.
"We got had," he said. "(Vision Works) did things illegally. They signed contracts with others without the board's approval."
Coleman said no one knew of the mismanagement of funds until after the four-day festival was over and the bills began arriving.
Vision Works is the same company involved int the mismanagement of Thunder over Louisville, which caused Kroger to bow out as a sponsor, according to Coleman.
Vision Works problems with Thunder over Louisville came out at about the same time as the Bourbon Festival knew there was a problem with the funds.
Regardless of who was at fault for the mismanagement of funds, the tourist commission was responsible for paying the bills.
The Nelson Fiscal Court and the Bardstown City Council have agreed to advance the money for the bills to the tourist commission---$70,000 from each agency.
The money will be deducted from revenue for room an meal tax. The money wil be paid back to the Fiscal Court and City Council within five years at 7 percent interest.
Coleman said the tourist commission would have gone bankrupt if it was forced to pay the $140,000 without the advance from the city and county organizations.
"They spent money they weren't authorized to spend." Nelson County Judge Executive Dean Watts said.
Coleman said Vison Works, operated by president Dell Courtney, spent $5,000 to rent golf carts out of Indiana for the gala when My Old Kentucky Home golf course was located just yards away. The company also spent $7,000 on flowers for the gala.
"We got taken for a ride," Coleman said.
Watts said the city and county attorneys are looking into legal action the county and city can take against the company.
"We're launching a full investigation," Watts said. "We're not going to see Nelson County and Bardstown embarrassed and humiliated."
This year's bourbon festival will be Sept. 14-17. This is the ninth year for the festival.
Earlier this year,the festival was named the official Bourbon Festival for the state because it is the first and oldest Kentucky bourbon festival.
The economic impact of the festival reaches into the millions. Kentucky Bourbon Festival Executive Director Pam Gover said in an earlier interview.
The festival committee recently received the economic impact reports from last year's festival.
Locally, the festival created a $3,611,018 impact. It created an impact of $5,817,350 statewide.
I would like to add to the message sent by boone. I work with the Oscar Getz Museum on weekends and I help them organize their events for the Bourbon Festival. The museum sponsors two main events. The first is a Bourbon Heritage Seminar where we invited people from the industry to sit on a panel and answer questions from the public about bourbon and its history. We always have very intersting guest on the panel and many questions are answered. We receive a sponsorship from Brown-Forman but they leave the content completely in the hands of the Getz Museum. There is no bias to the answers unless you consider the fact that we are all in favor of good bourbon a bias.
The second event is called the Master Distiller's Auction. We auction off bottles of product autographed by the Master Distiller. We also use this time to clean our store room and auction off some duplicate whiskey from the past. The Oscar Getz Museum does receive a sponsorship for this event to pay for the one day liquor permit to keep us legal and 100% of the money raised goes to the museum. I want to make this clear so that people will know that if they support this auction the money will go to the museum and not to help pay off Festival debts. We have done this for three years now and we have increased our earnings every year. This money has bought the museum a new computer and Pastperfect, a museum software package. The money is also going to pay for a new telephone system and this year I hope to raise enough to get the museum a website.
Could you please post information on how to send donations to the museum? I would like to make a donation. The webpage would be great. I hope you can pull it off.
It is a pleasure to see Mike Veach on this board and I am going to "out" him here. He is too modest about his role as a mere part time employee of the museum. Mike is, in fact, one of the leading authorities on bourbon history and an academically trained historian who keeps us amateurs honest. Mike used to be the archivist at United Distillers in Louisville, where he had a wonderful collection of documents and artifacts at the old Stitzel Weller plant in Shively. Welcome, Mike.
--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)
Thanks, Chuck. I was hesitating because I wasn't sure if it would be right, but I'll go with your judgement. Mike, it's really good to see you here. My wife Linda and I met Mike the first of several times we visited the Getz museum, along with Mary Hite (also no slouch in the knowledge department and the sweetest person you're ever likely to meet), and we've visited him there several times since. Attached to this message is a photo from the 1998 Kentucky Bourbon Festival which is from our website. A good deal of all that is known about Kentucky bourbon history has come, through various writers, from Mike; and he has the resources to back it all up. I have no doubt that it was from his collection that the 1910 issue of Midas' was obtained.
To all it may concern,
I have talked it over with Mary Hite and Flaget Nally we agree the best way to make a donation is for you to visit the museum and tour the exhibits. We really like for people to see the museum and we are proud of the work we do there to preserve the history long neglected by others. Of course we realize that not everybody can make the trip to Bardstown so the next best thing to do is to send a check to
The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
114 North Fifth Street
Bardstown, Kentucky 40004
I do hope to see many of the suscribers to this wonderful site at the museum and particularly at the Master Distillers Auction. If we get the bottles from the distillers in time I do hope to copy our list of autographed bottles on to this website so that you will all know what we are offering.
Should anyone be at the Bourbon Festival this year I plan to have a bottle of Weller Antique with me to help me whet the whistle in between events. I would love to have company while I do so and you all are invited to come by for a drink. I will be at the Oscar Getz Museum between 9 and 5 on Friday and Saturday, longer if necessary.
I'll be there! It will be a pleasure to meet you sir.
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
Mike, Thanks for the Invite!! We will also be bringing some different things to try if you get the chance to join us. John and I will be there once again this year to see you. We are also going to the Gala this year for the first time. We hope to be seeing others there that we have met on this forum.
Mike, I truly look forward to meeting you. I was just in Bardstown this past Tuesday but did not have the time to stop by. I am trying to cut a trip to Houson short so that I may get to the Festival on Friday -- my first time. I shall look you up. Greg (Kitz)
Does anyone know if Evan Kulsvein, who bottles several non-mainline brands at the old Willett's place in Bardstown (he's married to a Willett), will be represented at the Festival? I believe he's responsible for such as Rowan's Creek, Noah's Mill, Sam Houstin, Jefferson Reserve, Johnny Drum, Corner Creek, Kentucky Vintage, and Old Kentucky XO (one of my favorites), and probably some others as well. That's a pretty formidable group of bourbons from someone who gets absolutely no press coverage whatever. I'd love to get a chance to meet and talk with him.
I don't know if he will be participating in the festival or not, but he is a local Bardstown guy. Just give him a call when you're there.
--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)
Evan will not be at the Gala on Sat. P.M. I've never seen him around at the Festival. He mostly spends his energy on export items, so I don't think you'll see him around.
Planning to attend my first festival. Don't plan to go to the Friday night Jazz party or Saturday night Gala - maybe someday. Do plan to do all that is free or cheap and hope to taste a lot of bourbon. Also, hope to meet many who contribute here. Any advice? Should I bring lawn chairs? Will I be able to buy shots of many different bourbons on the lawn?
I need to know by Wednesday. thanks,
There are things to do on Friday and Saturday that cost nothing such as the music on the lawn of Spalding Hall. I don't know what the regulations are about bringing lawn chairs but it there are food tents with tables and chairs. The restaurant in the basement of Spalding Hall will be selling drinks and they have a decent selection of bourbons. I thought I might see if anyone who shows up on Thursday might want to make a road trip to my favortie bourbon bar in Louisville, the D'Maries at the Galt House. It is worth the trip even if you are staying in Bardstown. Let me know if you are interested. I also plan to keep a couple of bottles handy at the museum to pour some drinks for my friends and cohorts. Feel free to drop by. I am taking a bottle of Weller 107 and Old Forester 100 proof and if that runs out I have some Woodford Reserve and a bottle of Early Times Bourbon (Yes real BOURBON) that Lincoln Henderson gave to me.
The puiblishers of Whisky Magazine from London will have a booth set outside the museum at least one of the days. They are offering something called "Find the Rye", where you taste a bourbon and a rye, and you have to pick out the rye. It's a way for them to get customers for their very nice magazine.
The following is copied from the Ky. Bourbon Festival Web page. It leads me to believe there will be basically a cash bar with many varities of Ky bourbons and whiskeys (I'd prefer "tasting" sizes so I can still walk at midnight). If anyone knows this to NOT be true, let me know as that's what I'm expecting.
Mike, I definitely plan to stop by and see you. I'll be in Houston on Thursday so can't make the Louisville trip -- though I like to visit Louisville so I'll take a rain check. Maybe we can just meet there someday this fall. I also plan to catch Julian at the spot where his sister will be selling the book. Here's what the web page says:
"6 PM - 12 Midnight Food Booths, Spirit Garden and Car Show
Spalding Hall and City Hall Lawns 114 N Fifth Street
Let our assortment of KY food vendors whet your appetite. Including such vendors as Gernstein, Jake's Crab Cakes, Harris Concession, Fiesta Flavors, Kentucky Bourbon Q, Pizza, Kettle Korn, Camelot Concession, & West Kentucky BBQ.
Partake of your favorite KY Bourbon or beer in the Spirit Garden cash bar, ID required.
View a variety of old cars from the area’s largest car clubs.
* Free Admission to the Lawn"
Can you give us any idea who will be on the Heritage Panel this year?
The Bourbon Heritage Panel this year is as follows:
Either Fred Noe or Jerry Dalton - We asked Fred but he was unsure of his schedule and Jerry might fill in for him.
Sam Thomas (Yes you Bourbon Country Reader fans THE Sam Thomas of Old Fitzgerald fame)
And of course I am the moderator
Greg, if you are planning on coming in by Friday, try to make the Heritage Panel from 2pm til 3:30pm @ Spalding Hall. Master Distillers will discuss history and the process. You can also catch the Spirit Garden and Car Show. The Spirit Garden is a beer and Bourbon cash bar. Bj
Wavin'atcha from Bardstown, deep in the heart of Bourbon Country.
Oops!! I spelled Max Shapira wrong. Sorry Max!! I knew better but was in a hurry at the time.
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