Technically, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky, starts Monday. Not much happens before Friday, though, which is when the only festival-like part opens up; the booths, rides, and food stands on the Spalding Hall lawn. Most everything before that is a ticketed event.
To refresh your memory about how I regard the festival, read this post from June.
I'll probably go down on Wednesday. Before I head to Bardstown I'm going to check out the new Bulleit Experience at Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
The Festival gets a lot of well-deserved criticism from me, but I always go. My favorite official event -- one that is both public and free -- is the barrel rolling competition. It takes place on Saturday morning on a sports field adjacent to the festival grounds.
Teams from the different area distilleries compete in events that closely mimic how full barrels are managed in the aging warehouses. Barrels used in the competition are the same barrels they really use, only empty.
There usually are some master distillers hanging around, cheering on their teams. It's a lot more fun and authentic than the stupid prom on Saturday night that is supposed to be the Festival's signature event.
If you're in the area, like within a couple hours drive, it wouldn't be crazy just to run down there as a day trip to check it out. Even on the weekend, when the festival is at it's peak, getting in and out and around in Bardstown isn't too difficult.
Woodstock it's not.
You can even make an overnight stay a spur-of-the-moment decision. You probably won't be able to find a room in Bardstown proper, but there are tons of lodging choices at every exit on I-65 near there that will have vacancies.