Beer Cheese Festival is Saturday in Clark County
Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Large crowds are expected to descend on downtown Winchester this weekend with one thing in mind: beer cheese.
The 13th Annual Beer Cheese Festival is slated to occur Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A spicy cheese spread commonly found throughout the United States, Beer cheese is found on everything from hamburgers to appetizer trays.
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The delicacy has Clark County origins.
“Winchester is the birthplace of beer cheese,” said Cameron Correll of Winchester First, a civic organization that helps plan the festival.
Legend has it that beer cheese was born on the banks of the Kentucky River and created by chef Joe Allman for his cousin Johhnie’s establishment, the Driftwood Inn. The recipe was allegedly lost with the restaurant in the 1960s.
The Kentucky General Assembly awarded Clark County the distinction of being the birthplace of beer cheese in 2013.
When Winchester First was looking for a fundraiser to benefit the downtown area in 2009, it did not have to look far to find a theme.
“What better way to support our downtown than with something born right here,” Correll said.
The festivals have been a smash hit ever since then, and all funds generated are reinvested into the downtown area.
So what can the public expect from this year’s festival?
“We will have free kids’ activities with interactive games and airbrush tattoos. Then there will be over 100 arts and crafts vendors. Plus food and drink,” Correl said.
There will also be live music, with a new artist taking the stage every hour. The schedule is as follows:
10 a.m. – Ian and Kevin Slucher
11 a.m. – Eli Holbrook
12 p.m. – Robert Lewis
1 p.m. – Abby Rank
2 p.m. – Hannah Mae Rector
3 p.m. – Heidy Danyls Long
4 p.m. – Jon Curtis
Of course, one must remember the beer cheese.
“We will have 14 beer cheese vendors set up dishing out samples,” Correll said.
The same 14 vendors will also be competing against each other in the professional-level beer cheese competition.
A panel of judges will select a winner from the entries, and the public will be able to choose a People’s Choice winner. First place wins $1,000 cash and free advertising, second place wins $300 and third place is $200. People’s Choice is a $1,000 cash prize.
The reigning champion is Hall’s Beer Cheese.
There is an amateur competition for other beer cheese makers to compete in a more laid-back setting.
“People can sign up now on beercheesefestival.com to submit their beer cheese. It is only $15 to register,” Correll said. “They will need to bring it to city hall by 11 a.m.”
Besides bragging rights, there will be cash prizes. The first-place winner receives $50, second place receives $30 and third place receives $20.
Michele Richards won the competition last year.
Correll said that judging begins right after the festival opens and that the winners of both competitions will be announced around 5 p.m.
For a list of available parking and other information, visit the festival’s website, www.beercheesefestival.com, or its Facebook page, Beer Cheese Festival.