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.