Officials with BBQ and Barrels, the “reborn” version of the International Bar-B-Q Festival, are expecting quite the turnout of the new event, set for May 12-13. More than two dozen distilleries have already signed up to participate in the bourbon-themed events, and there will be a barbecue cookoff for those bringing their appetite.
Dave Kirk, Destination Management Director for Visit Owensboro, said they hoped to bring in 15 distilleries for the first year of the event. They’ve already doubled that number and are having to put a cap at 35 distilleries.
“That is really exciting because that’s one of the goals for the event. It shows there’s certainly a thirst for the bourbon in Owensboro, and it’s just really exciting as we take this event to a new level,” Kirk said.
Ticketed events are either already or nearly sold out, according to Kirk. The 150 VIP tickets were gone within a week. Only a handful of tickets are left for other events such as a special bourbon tasting and a dinner prepared by Matt Weafer.
Kirk said people have purchased tickets from all over the Midwest, as far away as Wisconsin, Illinois, and North Carolina.
Currently, Kirk said they don’t anticipate expanding the ticketed events because they want to ensure the first year of the redesigned event is successful.
“As long as they’re happy, that is ultimately our goal this year. Now, will there be room for expansion if we sell out and everybody has a fantastic time? Absolutely, but in this first year, we just want to do it really well,” Kirk said.
The City is in charge of hosting the barbecue side of the event, though Kirk said that he can tease there are going to be more barbecue options than in previous years.
City of Owensboro Public Events Director Tim Ross was unable to be reached prior to publication of this article.
In the initial announcement about BBQ and Barrels, organizers said the festival will still kick off at noon on May 12 with barbecue from the church cooking teams. There will also be food vendors, festival rides, music, and craft vendors throughout the downtown area.