Food & Drink

In Winchester, beer-cheese vendors vie for title of best in festival

Representatives from Smoky Mountain Beer Cheese handed out samples at the 2012 Beer Cheese Festival.
Representatives from Smoky Mountain Beer Cheese handed out samples at the 2012 Beer Cheese Festival.

Stale beer, cheese, spices and a lot of hot sauce is the recipe for beer cheese, and a springboard for a summer festival.

The fifth annual Beer Cheese Festival will be Saturday in downtown Winchester.

Clark County is the birthplace of beer cheese, and almost every cook claims his or her recipe is the best. Dozens will try to prove it at a competition at the festival that's open to amateurs and professionals.

The original beer cheese was created by Joe Allman, who worked as a chef in Arizona, Florida and at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. He shared the recipe with his cousin John, who owned Johnny Allman's restaurant in Ford, where it was served to bar patrons.

The recipe was a secret for many years, but now almost everyone has their own version. A few have turned their recipe into a Kentucky Proud business.

Tim Janes, executive director of Winchester First, said 16 vendors will participate this year. "That's up from 12 last year," he said.

For $5, visitors can sample the cheese and vote for their favorite. Vendors include Full Circle Market, Woody's, Ashby's, Ol' Man Ian's, River Rat, Big Russ Premium, T's, Hall's on the River, Smoky Mountain, Larry Mac's, Steve's Ready to Dip, DJ's, Moo Shine, Save a Lot, Jan's Fans, and Kentucky beer cheese.

In addition to the beer cheese — which ranges from mild and flavorful to hot and fiery — there will be other foods available. Vendors include Sweet Tooth Fairy, Pooh's Que, Winchester Professional Firefighters, Bun's Smokehouse BBQ, Gourmet 2 Go, Wendy's Sno Kones, Small Town Ice, M&M Concessions, Nanny's Old Fashioned Lemonade, Repicci's Italian Ice of the Bluegrass, D&O Concessions, and Crawford and Sons Kettle Corn.

Activities for children include inflatables, face painting, sand art, and a rock climbing wall.

Two entertainment tents will be set up on Broadway and Lexington Avenue. On Broadway, performers are Blindside Drop at 10 a.m., Stone Cold Grass, 11:45 a.m.; The Iz, 1:30 p.m.; Undercover Blues, 3:15 p.m.; and Mike Burnette, 4:30 p.m.

The Beer Garden on Lexington Avenue features The Clues, 10:30 a.m.; Kennedy Dane at noon; Grayson Jenkins, 1:30 p.m.; Thomas Wietecha, 3 p.m.; and Amber Ritchie, 4 p.m.


IF YOU GO

Beer Cheese Festival

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 8

Where: Downtown Winchester

Learn more: Beercheesefestival.com

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