Friday, October 14, 2011

Bourbon Festival on a Budget

Bourbon Festival on a Budget

The Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Ky is one of the easiest festivals to enjoy on a budget.   Although it is a small festival, they manage to acquire big name bands for their free concerts each night.  Take the whole family, or go with a group of friends.  Either way, there is something fun for everyone.

The Bourbon Festival occurs each year in September.  Bardstown, Ky is only a few miles from the main interstate, I-65, which runs north and south thru the state of Kentucky.  Bardstown is only a few miles from the largest city in Kentucky, Louisville.

If you arrive in the evening, begin your Bardstown Bourbon Festival adventure, by strolling thru the city streets admiring the festival window displays.  The storefront owners in this small town create an ambiance with their pride of being the Bourbon Capitol of the world.  From jewelry stores to drug stores, they each participate in a competition that seems to be an award worth winning.

However, if you happen to arrive in the morning or afternoon, you can stroll the streets as well, and admire the old town feel of this small city.  The buildings date back to before the Civil War.  There are historical markers pointing out the dates and locations that Confederate and Union armies were in the city.  Keep in mind, Kentucky was a neutral state.

While you are in the area, be sure and visit one or more of the bourbon distilleries. Quick Note:  In order to be a bourbon, a whiskey must have all of the following attributes: 
American made
Barrel must be new, charred and Oak
A minimum of 51% of the mash bill must be made of corn
It must be distilled at or below 160 proof
Entry into the barrel must be 125 proof or lower
Filled in the bottle - Must be 80 proof or higher
Nothing can be added to the bourbon, except Bourbon

The closest 3 distilleries, to Bardstown, Ky are Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Maker’s Mark.  They all offer a free tour and also free sampling.  Obviously, this is for the adults in your party, but keep in mind the Jim Beam distillery is an excellent site to see, even from a distance.  Take note, while you are there, of the Baptist Church, which appears to be planted just in between two of Jim Beam’s warehouses.  Coincidence? Maybe.

For the kids, while you are at the Bourbon Festival, you will find a dunking booth which is as much fun to watch as it is to participate.  The layout of the festival is wrapped around the city building, with stacks of straw here and there to sit and rest.  Also, free for the kids a football throwing contest and free rock climbing sponsored by the U.S. Army.  And you mustn’t forget to see the World Championship Barrel Competitions on Saturday!

The festival provides free music every night.  Also, free on my trip this year, I received a free can coolie, a free stitched blue horse (representing the BlueGrass state with a story behind it), a free postcard to send to my mother, and a free Bourbon Country coaster. 

Find the cheapest booth for snacks and soda, or bring a picnic for you and the kids and you have yourself one excellent, cheap if not free, vacation.