Bourbon and BBQ is back

Published 7:37 pm Monday, August 26, 2019


Music, bourbon and barbecue will fill the ninth annual Kentucky State BBQ Festival, held at Wilderness Trail Distillery for the last three years. This year, the distillery says with seminars on topics like pairing bourbon with barbecue, the festival “lets the state’s native spirit share the stage” with the star of the festival.

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The festival goes down Sept. 6-8, which highlights seven celebrity pitmasters creating all different types of barbecue festival-goers can purchase. Last year, the festival said it had raised more than $151,000 to date for the Heart of Kentucky United Way.

As of last year, the festival is now a ticketed event. Tickets are sold as one-day general admission for $5, or three-day weekend passes for $10.

Offerings over the weekend include the Friday night (Sept. 6) VIP “Whiskey Business” event, a gala featuring a whole hog barbecue dinner prepared by Mike Mills of 17th Street BBQ, with sides by the pitmasters. Tickets are $150 a piece, and include a three-day pass to the festival; food; two drink tickets; live music by Paul Childers; meet and greets with the pitmasters and more. Each ticket-holder for the VIP event will also get a bottle of special-edition bourbon from Wilderness Trail. Friday’s event will be held at The Showroom on Lebanon Road.

Saturday morning (Sept. 7), a Run for the Ribs 5K will begin at 8 a.m. at Millennium Park. At 10 a.m., the Smokin’ Butt Bike Ride will commence at Danville Bike & Footwear, then a car show will hit the distillery at 11 a.m., when the festival grounds open.

Also on Saturday, Wilderness Trail Distillery owners Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist will feature a Master Distillers Tour, offered at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m; cost is $50 per person. Reserve a tour by calling (859) 402-8707.

Anyone who wants a chance to show off their cooking skills may enter the backyard BBQ competition, which goes down on Saturday (Sept. 7).

Fred Minnick, who has authored bourbon books and is the editor of “Bourbon+” magazine, lined up several informational sessions for those who like to drink, eat and learn. The special seminars, some ticketed and some free, will begin Saturday (Sept. 7), starting with Bourbon & BBQ at 11:30 a.m. (tickets are $25); Bourbon 101, 2-3 p.m. (free); and Drinking from the Barrel, 5:30-6:30 p.m. ($25).

Seminars will be held on the grounds of the festival.

On Sunday (Sept. 8), three seminars, all free, will be offered: Bourbon History, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 pm.; Story of Rye, 12:45-1:30 p.m.; and Legendary Distiller Jim Rutledge on his new brand, 3:45-4:30 p.m.

Also Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. will be bloody mary brunch. Tickets are $100 a person and include a mimosa and bloody Mary making class. Ticket holders to this event will take home a bottle of Ubon’s Bloody Mary mix and Wilderness Trail’s Blue Heron Vodka.

For more information, including details about celebrity pitmasters and live music, watch for further coverage in The Advocate-Messenger and visit