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Kentucky’s Year of Food: Beer Cheese, Anyone?

Nestled in the heart of the state, the Bluegrass, Horses, Bourbon and Boone region is characterized by beautiful horse farms, classic bourbon distilleries and unique local festivals. Many of the most distinguished horse farms in the nation encircle Lexington, also known as the Horse Capital of the World. Groups can tour the farms that bred champion race horses like Secretariat, Man O’ War, Silver Charm and recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. There are many cultural attractions to experience outside Lexington as well, such as the stunning state Capitol in Frankfort and Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, once the site of the third-largest Shaker community in the country.

Signature Flavors: At the beginning of June each year, Winchester attracts hundreds of visitors from across the state to its annual Beer Cheese Festival, where groups can sample various beer cheese brands on pretzels or crackers. Though the exact origins of beer cheese have been debated, there is no question that the distinctive snack dip has found a true home in Kentucky.

Another quintessential Kentucky product is Ale-8-One, a refreshing ginger and citrus soda produced in Winchester. The company is one of the nation’s oldest family-owned soft drink companies, and groups are sure to notice the drink’s familiar green bottle and red logo in restaurants, cinemas and grocery stores all over the state.

Great Group Restaurants: Groups can sample spoon bread and other fine Kentucky cuisine at the historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant in Berea. For those willing to splurge, the Middle Fork Kitchen Bar in Lexington’s Distillery district features gourmet regional creations such as sweet potatoes breslin, duck confit and bread boule with brisket. Several other reputable venues to consider are Dudley’s on Short, Lockbox and Tony’s of Lexington.

Must-See Attractions: No trip to the Horse Capital of the World would be complete without a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park or Keeneland racetrack. Spanning 3,000 acres of beautiful Bluegrass countryside, the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill has hiking trails, historic buildings, shops, an inn and a restaurant. A few other notable landmarks are the Mary Todd Lincoln House and the state Capitol in Frankfort.