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  1. #1
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    TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    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.
    Mat Garretson
    HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

  2. #2
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    Quote Originally Posted by mrviognier View Post
    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.
    ~Robert BTOTY #2 2009

    GBS Member - 2011 Indoctrination

  3. #3
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    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.

  4. #4
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    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.
    Mat Garretson
    HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    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

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    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.
    Last edited by cowdery; 06-07-2011 at 14:51.

  7. #7
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    Thanks, all, for the input. IMHO a bar without Rye is a Bar in Hell.

    So, tell me a little more about the Gazebo...
    Mat Garretson
    HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

  8. #8
    Moderator and Bourbonian Of The Year 2014
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    Quote Originally Posted by mrviognier View Post
    Thanks, all, for the input. IMHO a bar without Rye is a Bar in Hell.

    So, tell me a little more about the Gazebo...
    Bourbon (and Rye) Heaven......

  9. #9
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    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.
    Simplicity is the essence of universality - MK Ghandi

  10. #10
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    Re: TO GO OR NOT: KY Bourbon Festival

    I too am on the fence with this one.

 

 

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