Music News & Reviews

What music festival has bourbon, betting and a ‘Top Chef’ runner up? This one.

Keeneland announces festival with ‘A-list music’

Railbird Festival will take place Aug. 10-11 at Keeneland in Lexington. AC Entertainment, which produces Bonnaroo and Forecastle, introduced the festival Wednesday morning.
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Railbird Festival will take place Aug. 10-11 at Keeneland in Lexington. AC Entertainment, which produces Bonnaroo and Forecastle, introduced the festival Wednesday morning.

Lexington’s newest music festival is coming, and of course it will have top-tier talent on stage. But this one also wraps bourbon, racehorses and Kentucky’s “Top Chef” into the weekend.

The Railbird Music Festival, which is Aug. 10-11 at the grounds of Keeneland, will feature two days of music, including headliners The Raconteurs, Brandi Carlile, Hozier and Tyler Childers. But the organizers also are offering “experiences” that focus on what makes Lexington unique. Several are including in the festival admission; others are offered at an additional cost and require reservations.

Let’s break it down:

The bourbon. The festival will have a tasting experience called “The Rickhouse,” with bourbons, including some barrel selections, picked by Lexington filmmaker AJ Hochhalter, who produced the 2018 documentary “NEAT: The Story of Bourbon.”

"NEAT: The Story of Bourbon" is the title of a documentary about Kentucky's native spirit. It features Central Kentucky resident, actor Steve Zahn.

Hochhalter has selected barrels from Four Roses, Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, Old Forester, Weller bourbons and a Pinhook rye, just for fun. “There are some really good ones in there,” Hochhalter said. His favorites? “The Weller’s was amazing. I’m excited for that one,” he said. “And the Old Forester pick is also really good.”

Access to The Rickhouse is included with general admission tickets. Drinks will be available for purchase by the pour, by the flight or in craft cocktails made with mixers from the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., as well as Railbird Rickhouse merchandise.

If you don’t make it into The Rickhouse at the festival, bottles of their picks also will be available at Justins’ House of Bourbons in downtown Lexington.

The horses. Did I mention the music festival is actually on a racetrack? In the morning you can see Thoroughbred racehorses work out, take a tour of a horse farm including Winstar (the stable that campaigned 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify) or Godolphin, or explore Keeneland.

IMG_180505DerbyKRD824_2_1_CFDNEKTM_L389564510.JPG
No. 7 Justify with jockey Mike Smith, wearing the WinStar silks, won the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Katie Decker Herald-Leader

And during the festival you can hang out at the air-conditioned bar and lounge inside Lucky Day Plaza where there will be Keeneland BETologists to help you bet on simulcasting from Del Mar to Saratoga.

The food. When “Top Chef” filmed in Kentucky last season, the whole state was rooting for Paducah’s Sara Bradley, who was the runner up. Now you can sample her cooking without driving all the way out to Freight House. Bradley will be one of the Kentucky chefs presenting at the festival.

Chefs Bradley, Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn and Honeywood, Cole Arimes of Coles 735 Main, Mark Richardson of Dudley’s on Short, Dan Wu of Atomic Ramen, Toa Green of Crank & Boom Ice Cream and Marc Therrien of Keeneland will do cooking demos and for a limited time serve small bites for the first 30 people in the Keene Barn Entertainment Center.

There also will be an opening reception in the track’s Saddling Paddock on Friday night and a trackside brunch on Saturday and Sunday, with a bloody Mary and mimosa bar.

If fancy food isn’t you, there will be food trucks on site throughout the festival, including Ranada’s Bistro, Pasta Garage, Rolling Oven Pizza Truck, Sav’s Chill, Windy Corner Market and more. Here’s what Windy Corner will serve pulled-pork barbecue poboy, vegan jackfruit barbecue poboy, heirloom tomato and mozzarella poboy or Kentucky Combo with Browning’s country ham and Wallace Station Pimento cheese, for $12 each.

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