In Kentucky most would rather be someone’s shot of bourbon than everyone’s cup of tea. So how can a bourbon festival in a small rural community impact the entire state of Kentucky?
The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held every year in Bardstown, Kentucky – the Bourbon Capital of the World. The 2021 Kentucky Bourbon Festival was a huge draw for visitors from all over, with 65% of observed attendees traveling to the Festival from more than 30 miles from home. 93% of these visitors travelled from beyond the Kentucky border. That’s a lot of traveling from far away for a sip of magic brown water for fun people.
Not only did the Festival bring visitors to Bardstown, it also brought a big increase in spending. Using our credit card data we are able to see that visitor spending in Bardstown that weekend was 26% above the average visitor spending of the other three September 2021 weekends. Specifically, the hotel share of total visitor spending during the event weekend (16%) was 122% higher than the average of the other September 2021 weekends (6%).
The Bourbon Festival impacted the entire state. Based on visitor spending we can see that they were spending money at hotels in Bardstown, but with our geolocation data we can see how the impact of the Festival extends far beyond that of Bardstown. We are able to see that out-of-state visitors had strong cross visitation with Louisville locations, including accommodations before and after the Festival. We even saw Festival attendees on I-64 traveling between Louisville and Lexington!
Some people drink to make others seem more interesting (thank you for that one, Hemmingway). But in Kentucky, enjoying bourbon is a way of life and most find it inspiring...after all creativity is 80% bourbon and 20% ice.