Louisville, Ky.’s Forecastle music festival is leveraging bourbon, horse racing and other products and activities endemic to the Bluegrass State to separate itself from other events in the increasingly competitive music festival space.   

The July 18-20 festival creates activation programs that play up the Kentucky experience to accomplish three primary objectives: 

  • Drive ticket sales
  • Create authentic activation programs
  • Access new sponsorship inventory

“We try hard to promote what makes Louisville and Kentucky different. It used to be a strong lineup would guarantee ticket sales. Now it’s all about the experience,” said Jeff Cuellar, vice president of strategic partnerships with AC Entertainment, the producer of Forecastle, Bonnaroo and other music fests.

Below, two ways Forecastle is using its Kentucky roots to enhance the fan experience.

Four Loko Photo Finish. Looking to play up “the greatest two minutes in sports,” Forecastle this year will host the Four Loko Photo Finish, a horse race in which attendees compete on inflatable horses.

The winner of each race will receive a prize pack from Four Loko, an alcoholic beverage drink. Each contestant also will be entered into a grand prize drawing dangling VIP tickets to the 2015 Forecastle festival, with the winner of each race earning 10 additional entries.

To encourage crowd participation, Forecastle will leverage the tie with a charity fundraiser in which spectators can bet on their favorite “horse.”

“Part of the reason people love horse racing is gambling. We don’t want to promote gambling, but we want to get them involved and cheer on racers.”

The festival plans to host the race every eight to ten minutes, with five attendees competing in each race. Representatives from the Forecastle Foundation will help execute the event.

Four Loko also gains pouring rights at the festival.  

Forecastle Bourbon Lounge. Forecastle in 2012 launched the Bourbon Lounge, a drink and culinary experience that features bourbon, local food and educational programming from master distillers.

In addition to enhancing the attendee experience, the lounge provides another benefit: a new revenue stream. The lounge features 13 bourbons, each of which pays a sponsorship fee.

“Selling bourbon at a concession stand isn’t exciting—everyone does that. The Bourbon Lounge gives consumers an authentic environment to experience the Bourbon culture while providing the festival a significant revenue stream.” 

Forecastle this year expanded the program with Bourbon Cares, a charitable overlay in which Forecastle bands will team with local distillers to raise funds from the sale of single-barrel selections.

Members from Spoon will select a barrel from Four Roses Bourbon, 33 Grey & Mofro from Heaven Hill; while members of Spanish Gold will pour Woodfield Reserve.

Proceeds from Bourbon Cares will benefit the Forecastle Foundation.