From seminars on topics such as pairing Bourbon with BBQ to Master Distiller tours, this year’s Kentucky State BBQ Festival lets the state’s native spirit share the stage with the star of the festival.
All of the fun of the ninth annual festival happens Sept. 6-8 on the grounds of presenting sponsor Wilderness Trail Distillery at 4095 Lebanon Road, Danville, Kentucky. The festival that features BBQ created by seven celebrity pitmasters is a fundraiser for Heart of Kentucky United Way. Music plays a huge role in the festival fun with live bands and this year marks the debut of the distillery co-owner Pat Heist’s band Zella May. Zella May, which Heist describes as “hard rock,” performs at 1 p.m. Sept. 8.
Wilderness Trail’s other owner, master Ddistiller Shane Baker, returns with his popular Master Distiller tours at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sept. 7. The 1 ½ hour tour includes a trip to the barrelhouse where guests will taste the bourbon from the barrel. The tours feature the laboratory for Ferm Solutions, fermentation and distilling areas for the distillery that produces Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, Blue Heron Vodka and Bourbon barrel-aged Harvest Rum. Guests receive a souvenir Glencairn. Tours are limited to 25 people. The cost is $50 a person with proceeds going a cancer charity fund. Reserve a tour by calling 859-402-8707.
Fred Minnick, author of Bourbon books and editor of Bourbon+ magazine, has lined up several seminars, such as pairing Bourbon with BBQ. The seminars will happen in a bourbon lounge on the distillery’s front lawn. Other staples of the festival, such as a VIP party Sept. 6, return. The gala, titled Whiskey Business, features music by Paul Childers and guests receive a bottle of Wilderness Trail Bourbon. Marys and Mimosas is a Sept. 8 brunch with a Bloody Mary bar and oysters on the half shell. A Bloody Mary expert will teach attendees will learn how to make the best Bloody Marys with Wilderness Trail’s Blue Heron Vodka. Tickets to seminars and the events both still are available. Visit kybbqfestival.com.
For anyone wanting to work up an appetite for the BBQ, there is a 5K run and a Smokin’ Butt bicycle ride Sept. 7. Also, don’t miss a chance to show off your cooking skills at the Backyard BBQ competition Sept. 7. Brush up on your hog calling and bean eating talents for Sept. 8 contests. Festival admission is $5 or $10 for a weekend pass. Visit the website for more information about the fabulous pitmasters, musical acts and Bourbon seminars.