Kentucky State BBQ Festival info: tickets, parking, VIP events and more

Published 6:13 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

This year’s eighth Kentucky State BBQ Festival, set for Sept. 7-9, “is going to be great, with new stuff, and fun stuff and problems fixed,” Brad Simmons, co-founder of the festival told the Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors this week.

“We’re changing things up to keep it fresh, to be more efficient and raise more money.”

File photo by Ben Kleppinger
Traffic and parking were major complaints during the 2017 Kentucky State BBQ Festival. Organizers say this year, they have hired professionals to keep traffic flowing and made numerous improvements to the parking areas.

One-day tickets to attend the festival are $5 for everyone age 11 and older; it costs $10 for a three-day pass.

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Tickets can be ordered online at Children ages 10 and younger will be admitted free. Tickets for any of the festival’s three VIP events may be purchased online as well.

Wilderness Trail Distillery wants to help families afford to attend the festival and will be giving away 100 passes. To enter a drawing for for up to five tickets, people can visit Wilderness Trail Distillery’s Facebook page or Instagram profile and follow the directions; or call the distillery at (859) 402-8707.

Two of the problems fixed are traffic and parking issues the festival unexpectedly experienced last year. A professional parking crew has been hired to keep traffic flowing off of Lebanon Road and into the parking areas behind the festival, located at the distillery, said Cindy Simmons, co-founder of the festival with her husband, and a CVB board member.

And more land closer to the event has been mowed several times over the summer. “It’s like a golf course,”w she said.

Brad Simmons said the parking area hasn’t just been bush hogged — “now it’s finished, mowed as smooth as your granny’s lawn.”

There will be plenty of large shuttle carts taking people to and from the the parking areas at the festival, and parking areas will be clearly marked, Brad Simmons said.

There will be better access around the festival grounds, too. People with young children in strollers will see a big improvement in getting around because more stone paths have been laid and rolled down “as smooth as butter,” he added.

There are going to be “big music names” he said, and a bucking bull ride will be set up for people to try out. “We’re very excited about that.”

The VIP events on each of the three days of the festival are very important “and should do very well,” he predicted. Money raised from those special events will benefit the Heart of Kentucky United Way.

“They’re for the person who has everything … Economically, you get a lot of stuff,” he said.

Tickets for Friday night’s VIP Luau are $200 per person. That event includes a whole hog buffet, entertainment, an all-weekend pass to the festival and a food voucher so you can enjoy a meal from a celebrity pitmaster. Most importantly, Brad Simmons noted, you will also a receive a special limited edition, single barrel bottle of Wilderness Trail Distillery bourbon with a commemorative label that many bourbon collectors will want to keep.

On Saturday, a VIP Master Distiller’s discussion panel takes place from 11 a.m to 1:30 p.m. Master distillers taking part in this event are Peggy Stevens, Kevin Curtis, Marianne Barnes, Al Young, Shane Baker and Dave Scheurich. Tickets are $100.

File photo by Ben Kleppinger
Crowds listen to music on the main stage at the 2017 Kentucky State BBQ Festival.

The VIP Sunday brunch will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features a breakfast buffet, a bloody mary bar and classes on how to make the perfect bloody mary. In addition, ticket holders will a receive a special limited edition, single barrel bottle of Wilderness Trail Distillery bourbon.

“Fall is our peak tourist and BBQ kicks that off for us,” CVB executive Director Jennifer Kirchner said. “And partnering with Wilderness Trail is the perfect example of complementary partnerships generating economic gains.”

“Everyone involved in pulling off this huge event works so hard and they do so with big hearts,” Kirchner said. “From the Simmons and the Bakers to over 200-plus volunteers, it’s not just about the BBQ for us. It’s about engaging in efforts that make our community competitive and successful. And this event knocks it out of the park.”

Celebrity pitmasters who will be dishing out their specialties all weekend are Shelly Hunt, Desperados; Leslie Roark Scott (The Barbeque Princess), Ubons; Rod “Lucky Dog” Bennett, Lucky Dog BBQ; Carey Bringle, Peg Leg Porker; Craig Kimmel, Firehouse BBQ; Mike Mills, 17th Street Barbecue; and Moe Cason, Ponderosa BBQ.

Seven bands will be performing throughout the weekend including:

• Friday — Rachel Crowe, 6-7:30 p.m.; and Tee Dee Young, 8:30-10 p.m.

• Saturday — Brad Hardin 1-2:30 p.m.; Hi-5, 3:30-5 p.m.; Paul Childers, 6-7:30 p.m.; and headliner, Dillon Carmichael, 8:30-10 p.m.

• Sunday — Ben Lacy, 2-3:30 p.m.


For more information about the Kentucky State BBQ Festival, visit