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Bourbon Barrels Coming to Covington, Newport Streets

Bourbon barrels are coming to Northern Kentucky's entertainment districts to serve as wayfinding signage and art.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Catalytic Fund announced the NKY Bourbon Barrel Project, which will match a business with a local artist to create a custom-painted bourbon barrel, each with a solar lighting feature.

The barrels will be prominently featured during two busy weekends this fall.

The first-ever Kentucky's Edge Bourbon Conference and Festival will take place in Covington and Newport on October 4 and 5, and the following weekend, the wildly popular urban light show BLINK returns, expanding from Cincinnati to include Covington streets this year.

“Bourbon is part of Kentucky’s culture and this is a fun way of telling our story while highlighting all the cool businesses and community venues we have," said NKY Chamber president Brent Cooper. "The barrels will also provide wayfinding for visitors, and will be another exciting art attraction in our region."

Cooper said the barrel project will emphasize the region's connection between its cities and counties, and to Frankfort.

“NKY is stronger when we work together,” said Cooper. “I predict the NKY Bourbon Barrel Project will not only be embraced by businesses and organizations in our river cities, but by everyone throughout the entire northern Kentucky region. Everyone is going to want one!” 

Jill Morenz, director of community initiatives and communications at the Catalytic Fund, is managing the project. She previously led the NKY Picnic Table Project, which lined the Purple People Bridge with picnic tables painted by local businesses and organizations last year.

She also leads the Public Arts Network of Northern Kentucky.

“I’m looking forward to working directly with the businesses and the artists to facilitate these amazing public art pieces tied to our region’s bourbon heritage,” Morenz said. “Everyone in the Network is eager to help make this project a huge success.”

How it works: a business or organization will sponsor a barrel for $1,200 (NKY Chamber members will receive a $200 discount). The sponsorship will include a barrel, along with fees and materials for an artist to paint it. The project will end with the completed barrels debuting at a party with a celebratory bourbon toast. After the party, barrels will be placed in designated areas like MainStrasse Village and Madison Ave. in Covington, and Monmouth St. and Newport on the Levee in Newport.

The barrels will remain in place for at least one year, lighting up the streets. 

“At the end of the day, visitors will be able to see the connections we have through these pieces of art,” said Cooper.

For more information and to either sponsor or paint a barrel, please visit

-Staff report

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