New Kentucky Railbird Festival to Blend Music with Horses, Bourbon and Bluegrass

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A new festival that blends music with horses, bourbon and bluegrass is coming to Kentucky. Keeneland says it will host the Railbird Festival, which will be produced by AC Entertainment, the company that puts on other high-profile music festivals including Bonnaroo and Forecastle.   

Officials say the name Railbird has ties to both horse racing and music. In horse racing, a railbird is a regular who hangs on the rail around the track to be close to the action. To “ride the rail” at a concert means essentially the same thing.

"With all of our festivals, we aspire to create an experience that stands apart from others - that is a true celebration of place, of the richness and uniqueness of a community," said Ashley Capps, president of AC Entertainment in a statement. "That, for us, is at the heart of any truly great festival experience. What a place this is, and what a team to collaborate with. This iconic setting at Keeneland in a city like Lexington, Kentucky, and these visionary leaders who make it all work, from bourbon to horses to bluegrass and everything in between. We couldn't be more excited for this new venture."

Railbird will take place on the meadow and hill surrounding Keeneland Aug. 10-11. It will offer different musical genres including rock, bluegrass and folk, and it will offer bourbon and equine-focused experiences including off-track wagering. The show will take place in The Meadow and on The Hill surrounding Keeneland, rather than inside the racetrack gates, paddock or infield areas.

To capitalize on the historic role bourbon plays in Kentucky, a number of bourbon distillers will be on-site with exclusive offerings -- available only at Railbird -- along with artisanal and local foods and craft beers.  "Railbird will be a celebration of our heritage, and an up-close-and-personal Kentucky experience at our historic racecourse," said Vince Gabbert, Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer in a statement. "AC Entertainment brings an incredible track record and years of experience and expertise in booking and managing highly acclaimed music festivals, so we are so pleased to work with them to create Railbird here on the grounds at Keeneland."