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New Bourbon Festival Coming to Covington, Newport

A new festival celebrating bourbon is coming to Covington and Newport this fall.

Organizers announced Kentucky's Edge Bourbon Conference & Festival, scheduled for October 4 and 5 at venues in both cities, on Tuesday at the Grand Ballroom in Covington.

During the unveiling ceremony, the upcoming event was described as SXSW Festival for bourbon.

The weekend festival will include a free music festival on the river, a Kentucky artisan market in Mainstrasse Village, and a bourbon conference at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. There will also be bourbon pairings, tastings, and musical performances at restaurants and bars across Newport and Covington.

“We believe Kentucky’s Edge Bourbon Conference & Festival will bring tens of thousands of people to our region,” said NKY Chamber President and CEO Brent Cooper. “We have goals of bringing in an increasing number of visitors nationally and internationally to Northern Kentucky. If we can get people here and show them the high quality of life and low cost of living, we think they’ll stay, or come back and bring more people.”

The organization of the new festival is being led by Bill Donabedian, cited as the brain behind prominent local events Brandemonium and the Bunbury and Midpoint music festivals, and Kevin Canafax, vice president of public affairs at Fidelity Investments, and co-founder of Brandemonium and Suits That Rock.

The pair had long wanted a signature event in Northern Kentucky. After the launch of the B-Line, Northern Kentucky's own bourbon experience established by meetNKY (the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau), inspiration struck.

Donabedian and Canafax set about designing a festival that would highlight bourbon and the urban footprint of Northern Kentucky.

“Bourbon is one of the things that makes Kentucky, Kentucky,” said Canafax. “It’s what gives us our edge, and one of the things we do best. This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the best of our region, and the Commonwealth.”

The main star of the Kentucky’s Edge Bourbon Conference & Festival is, of course, the bourbon. But the event is also meant to celebrate Kentucky’s heritage and culture as a whole.

“We want everyone to come and participate in this celebration of our region’s distinguished distilling past and future,” said Donabedian. “We’re celebrating all that makes this region special and Kentucky’s Edge will only be successful if we work together and show the world what the northern edge of Bourbon Country is all about.”

Hotel and ticket packages for the Kentucky’s Edge Bourbon Conference & Festival will go on sale Friday, March 1 at noon. Individual event tickets will be available late March/early April.

“Every aspect of the Kentucky’s Edge Bourbon Conference & Festival aligns with the core mission at the NKY Chamber - promoting business growth and an improved economy,” added Cooper. “This is Northern Kentucky’s first big regional festival, and we think it will be a win for everyone.” 

For the latest information about the Kentucky’s Edge Bourbon Conference & Festival, including sponsorship information, visit

-Staff report

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