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JAN-FEB 2017

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Page 38 of 51 39 J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 also introduced interactive programs for tour groups, among them culinary demonstrations. The park is also home to "The Stephen Foster Story," one of the country's most famous outdoor dramas. This classic summer musical has run for 58 years and commemorates the life and career of Foster; the play deals with the issues of slavery and race that he saw fi rst- hand at Federal Hill. "We get to depict scenes that actually happened on these grounds when Stephen Foster saw a family friend sold on the plantation," said artistic director Johnny Warren. "The story is structured as a year in his life when he's trying to win the affection of Jane. He is also strug- gling with the idea of composing music for a living. He was the fi rst American to do that." Performances take place in an on-site amphitheater and feature a cast of 50 professional actors and singers who wear colorful, dazzling costumes that have become a hallmark of the show. "We're known for the costumes in the show as much as we are the songs in the show," said Warren. BOURBON CENTRAL If your group enjoys learning about and sampling local spirits, there is no better place than Bardstown to learn about bourbon, Ken- tucky's native whiskey. The town is located near the heart of Ken- tucky's Bourbon Trail and is home to several distilleries large and small. Groups can take tours of the small family-owned Willett Dis- tillery or walk through the large industrial Barton 1792 Distillery for an in-depth look at its bourbon production. Tastings at both facilities introduce visitors to the wide range of fl avors and techniques that make up the bourbon tradition. Groups should also make time to visit the Bour- bon Heritage Center at the Heaven Hill Distillery. This museum gives guests a comprehensive look at the history of bourbon in Kentucky and includes a tasting experience inside a room designed to look like the inside of a bourbon barrel. The newest player on the town's bourbon scene is Bardstown Bourbon Company, which opened last summer. The company takes a mod- ern, scientifi c approach to distilling and uses a "farm to bottle" concept, with ingredients har- vested from around the region. MY OLD KENTUCKY DINNER TRAIN Bardstown sits surrounded by the hills and woodlands of Kentucky's Bluegrass Country, and one of the best ways to experience the land- scape is aboard My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. Departing from a historic depot near the center of Bardstown, this excursion combines the best of fi ne dining and natural sightseeing. The dinner train consists of a pair of dining cars from the 1940s with a kitchen car in between. Trips take place during lunch and dinnertime and last two to two and a half hours. The train rolls through the scenic Bernheim Forest and onto the grounds of the Jim Beam distillery. Passengers get historic and scenic narration and three- or four-course meals. CIVIL WAR MUSEUM Considered by many enthusiasts to be among the most important museums of its kind in the country, Bardstown's Civil War Museum houses Kentucky's largest collection of Civil War artifacts. The mu- seum focuses specifi cally on the Western theater of the war. Galleries showcase weapons, uniforms and other military items, and the mu- seum also has displays dealing with the cultural and political forces at work in the United States during the Civil War. The museum is part of a complex that also includes the Women's Museum of the Civil War, one of the only national museums to focus on the role of women in the war, as well as the War Memorial of Mid- America and a pioneer village with about a dozen historic structures. CATHOLIC HERITAGE Catholic heritage runs deep in Bardstown, where the fi rst diocese of the West was established in 1808 and oversaw territory stretching from Chicago to New Orleans. Today, groups can tour the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, which was constructed in the middle of the wilderness in 1818. During a tour, they will discover the art and architec- ture of the building and learn more about the area's Catholic history. About 12 miles outside of town, the Abbey of Gethsemani is a working monastic community that is open for visitors. Tour groups can stop at the visitors center to learn about the work of the monks who live there. A gift shop sells bourbon fudge, fruitcake and cheese made on-site, as well as other handmade items from monasteries around the world. 800.638.4877 We're not just any small town. We're the most beautiful small town in America, according to Rand McNally and USA Today. Journey to the Bourbon Capital of the World ® , where bourbon flows from everywhere but the kitchen faucet. Tour one of seven distilleries, learn about bourbon history, and dine on world-class, bourbon-inspired cuisine.

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