Shaker Village crafting a new beer festival

jpatton1@herald-leader.comAugust 7, 2014 

Shaker Village, the restored site of a religious community outside of Harrodsburg, is shaking off its slightly prim image with a new festival this summer. Well Crafted features local craft beers, food trucks and music.

Why beer?

"Why not?" said Amy Bugg, marketing and communications director for Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. "The idea came about because we have been talking about expanding our current target market, trying to get new and different demographics into Shaker Village."

The festival will feature craft beer from several "Brewgrass Trail" breweries, including Alltech, Blue Stallion, Country Boy and West Sixth in Lexington; Against the Grain, Apocalypse Brew Works, Bluegrass Brewing Co. and Falls City Beer in Louisville; and Rooster Brewing in Paris.

Shaker Village plans to make the beer and music festival an annual event.

Bugg says many people come to Shaker Village for school trips but never come back to see more than the historic buildings.

The hope is they will come to the Well Crafted festival for the beer and music, then want to come back to explore more of the 3,000-acre site.

"A lot of people think of Shaker Village as place you go one time and see the history," she says. "But there's so much more."

During the past few years, the historic site has added miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails for people to explore.

Area brewers are excited about the opportunity to tap a new audience, especially one with a potential interest in Kentucky history and preservation.

"Brewing certainly is an art and craft in its own right, so it wasn't a tough choice whether we would participate in this event that celebrates the craft of music and beer, and does so at a historic place that is arguably one of Kentucky's greatest sites of craft," says Hal Gervis, global sales director for Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. "Plus, it's always fun for us to be at local festivals like this with other great Kentucky craft brewers and share in some brews and laughs, and showcase Kentucky craft beer to a new audience."

Says Country Boy Brewing co-owner Jeff Beagle: "It is at one of the most historical and beautiful places in Central Kentucky and is truly a local event serving up local beer, food and bands. It just doesn't get anymore local than this event."

Kore Donnelly of Blue Stallion says the festival will give local brewers a great showcase for the many different kinds of beers being made. "This is a great opportunity for everyone to see all the different beer styles available in the area, which is one of the things that makes the Lexington beer market so interesting right now," he says.

This will be the first beer festival for Rooster Brewing, owner Ralph Quillen says. The brewery opened this summer in its own restored historic building in downtown Paris and is just beginning to distribute outside its taproom.

"A great venue draws a great crowd, and the interest in music and craft beer go hand in hand," Quillen says. "Demographically, the crowd should be excellent for the Kentucky craft beer brewers. We are expecting a large percentage of the attendees to be from Central Kentucky and within an easy drive to Paris and RoosterBrew tap room."

West Sixth Brewery is in a repurposed bread factory that now houses several local nonprofits with an emphasis on locally sourced food.

"Their focus on Kentucky music and Kentucky brews is sure to bring out a big crowd of people thirsty for a great brew and interested in local beer," Ben Self of West Sixth Brewing says.

Proceeds from the event will go to enhance the nonprofit Shaker Village's agricultural and environmental student and family education programs, Bugg says.

"We host a lot of field trips and we want to do more," she says. With state budgets getting cut, teachers have to make every field trip dollar count, so Shaker Village wants to offer more than just history, she says.

"With field trips now, we're trying to take the lessons the Shakers left us and parlay them into our everyday lives, such as sustainability," Bugg says.

So instead of students standing and watching demonstrations, she says, "we want them to get their hands dirty, plant seeds, harvest vegetables, make rope or soap."

And while music and beer might seem like odd ways to promote a religious community, Bugg says both have links to the Shakers.

"Music was a part of the Shakers' daily lives, and a very important part. They sang in the fields when they were working, and in worship."

And the beer? Shakers apparently made wine and spirits, she says.

"The Shakers were very progressive, loved technology, and were very forward thinking," Bugg says. "They believed in the equality of the sexes and races at a time when a lot of other people didn't."

Bugg says pre-event ticket sales have been strong, and 1,200 to 2,000 people are expected Saturday. There are some rooms left on site for Friday night, she says.

Friday's event is capped at about 350 because of the size of the venue, the Meadow View Barn. But Saturday, there will be two stages featuring 16 bands.

"It's a way for us to showcase the property a little differently, expand our offerings and attract a new audience," Bugg says. "We hope they will come back quarterly to try new and different things."

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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