Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Kentucky Bourbon Festival Names New President and Chairman

International Barrel Rolling Championship at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival (KBF) is an annual event in Bardstown, Kentucky. If I'm counting right, this will be its 29th year. The dates are September 16-20.

I have been critical of the festival in the past. The gist of my complaint has been that it always felt like a party the locals threw for themselves, but they got the bourbon industry to pay for it. It seemed to neglect what should have been its core audience, out-of-town bourbon enthusiasts. Not a few of the bourbon producers expressed the same criticism.

The festival has steadily gotten better in that regard and it looks like they've just taken a major step in a positive direction. First, they have hired a professional to run the thing. He is Randy Prasse, the new president and COO. Prior to joining the KBF, Prasse was Senior Director of Operations at Churchill Downs in Louisville, directing all operations functions of the 2016-2019 Kentucky Derbys. He has also held positions at WESS Event Services – Garda, Gettysburg Fest, Tri-County Economic Development Alliance (Elizabeth, IL), and the Wisconsin State Fair Park, and has volunteered for numerous festival, travel, and visitors bureau non-profit organizations in Wisconsin. Randy was named Top 100 People to Know in Milwaukee (2008) by OnMilwaukee.com and Forty Under 40 (2006) by the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Equally as important is the appointment of David Mandell as the new Chairman of the festival's Board of Directors. Mandell is the Co-Founder and former President and CEO of The Bardstown Bourbon Company, where he created, launched and managed the company’s Napa Valley-esque bourbon distillery destination experience in Bardstown, Kentucky.

In addition to Mandell, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Board of Directors includes:

Vice Chair – Melissa Horton, Corporate Events Manager at Heaven Hill Brands
Treasurer – Donald Blincoe, President/Professional Engineer at Buzick Construction
Secretary – Rachel Miller, Owner of The Harrison-Smith House
Board Member – Jennifer Cissell, Trade and Hospitality Manager at Beam Suntory
Board Member – Tony Kramer, Distillery Operations Manager at Lux Row Distillery
Board Member – Andrew Wiehebring, Director of Spirit Research and Innovation at Independent Stave Company

In addition to Mandell, three board members come from bourbon producers. Independent Stave is the largest maker of bourbon barrels. Buzick Construction builds the warehouses where those barrels, full of bourbon, are stored. Harrison-Smith House is a fine dining restaurant in downtown Bardstown.

Nothing against the city mothers and fathers who got the festival going, but a board of accomplished professionals directly connected to bourbon production and hospitality has to be an improvement in terms of helping make the festival the international, bourbon-centric event it always should have been.

1 comment:

Martin Hajovsky said...

Interesting to see three of the eight board members/officers be women. It can only be a good thing if that were to increase in coming years.