The Kentucky Derby Festival pin was released today.
The Kentucky Derby Festival pin was released today.

Although it might not feel like it, March is just around the corner — and we all know March is the gateway drug to Derby fever. Things only go uphill after St. Patrick’s Day in this town, so to shake off those shivers: The first Kentucky Derby Festival event of the year is this week.

“Festival Unveiled” again will combine the reveal of the official poster (by artist Karen Boone) with the 12th annual Rose Julep Contest hosted by Four Roses Bourbon at the Ice House on Thursday, Feb. 26.

Spring is near ... the mint julep did not see its shadow!
Spring is near … the mint julep did not see its shadow!

Attendees will be able to sample cocktails from the contest, wine from Old 502 Winery and desserts from Cellar Door Chocolates, and there will be a silent auction of former framed posters. They’ll also get a copy of some of the first 2015 official KDF programs hot off the presses.

The Rose Julep Contest is an annual cocktail challenge that seeks to find a unique take on the traditional Derby drink, the mint julep. Local bartenders compete, and a panel of celebrity/beverage industry judges (including our own Bar Belle) determine the best drink based on taste, presentation and creativity. There also will be a “People’s Choice” Rose Julep voted on by attendees.

“Festival Unveiled” starts Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Ice House, 226 E. Washington St. Tickets are $30 in advance (call 584-FEST) or $35 at the door.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."