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Before there were hundreds of bourbon-centric events throughout the year in Louisville and throughout Kentucky, there was the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. And after 27 years, the five-day event always held during National Bourbon Heritage Month continues to attract more than 50,000 people to Bardstown for all sorts of ways to celebrate and enjoy Kentucky bourbon.

This year, the 28th annual KBF will run from Sept. 18-22 and feature all the familiar favorites like Bourbon, Cigars & Jazz, the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, the Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting & Cocktail Party, and the ever-popular World Champion Bourbon Barrel Relays.

And there will be some different features as well, according to the KBF’s new Interim Executive Director Mike Mangeot. He tells us the biggest change will be on Bardstown’s Great Lawn, which will now be open Thursday through Saturday instead of just the weekend. Also big news: The participating distilleries in the festival will now be able to sell cocktails on the lawn.

Mangeot is the tourism director for Bardstown, and he lucked into the role of KBF interim director when there was some staff turnover earlier this year.

“We were faced with the prospect of not having the festival this year,” he explains. “Because of its importance to Bardstown, the (KBF) board asked if Bardstown Tourism would manage the festival, and we said yes.”

Mangeot says there also will be an educational stage added to the festival where attendees can meet master distillers and learn more about the bourbon-making process.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival

He’s looking forward to hosting everyone this September and plans on putting in many hours to make sure everything runs smoothly this year. We asked what it is that keeps the Kentucky Bourbon Festival going strong for nearly 30 years, and Mangeot knows exactly why.

“The continued support of our distillery partners and the community of Bardstown and Nelson County,” he says. “The residents take great pride and ownership in being what I call the original and most authentic bourbon festival in the world.”

For a look at all the events – some of which are free and some ticketed — check out the Kentucky Bourbon Festival’s website.

We caught up with Mangeot before all the madness starts to ask him some very important questions …

As a tourism person, I, of course, would recommend attractions that give a good overview of the city. I’d hit Museum Row — Slugger Museum, Frazier Museum, especially with their new bourbon attractions, the Ali Center, and finish it off with Kentucky Derby Museum. And then I would highly recommend a trip to Bardstown!