May 6, 2009

Beef: it's what's for summer - at least in Mercer County in early June. This year's Fort Harrod Beef Festival celebrates Kentucky's beef industry with a bigger and more varied festival than in past years, making it a perfect way to spend a summer weekend, according to event organizers.

The festival, which is a collaborative effort between Mercer County, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension and local businesses and residents, kicks off at 5 p.m. June 2 with the Cattle Crawl, a progressive dinner where diners will enjoy appetizers at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill then move to Clouds Country Cookin' for the salad course, on to The Beaumont Inn for an entrée of steak tips in a red wine demi-glaze and end the evening at the Alamo Steak House for a dessert of chimichanga cheesecake or flan.

That just whets your whistle for a weekend full of activities suitable for the entire family, said event co-chair LeMayne Ellis. The festival really gets under way Friday night, June 5 with everything from Baby, Tiny and Little Mr. and Miss Pageants, monster truck rides, a wine and cheese tasting and the first annual "Itty Bitty Burger Battle," in which area chefs compete in making multiple tasty, tiny burgers from 1 pound of ground beef.

Ellis encourages people to roll out of bed early Saturday, June 6 for a steak and eggs breakfast and the Stampede & Poke Along, a 5K run/walk through downtown Harrodsburg. In past years, the breakfast was held on the grounds of Fort Harrod State Park, but this year, the breakfast, like most of the festival's events, will take place at the fairgrounds.

Saturday will be filled with activities and exhibits for everyone's taste. There will be music, an agricultural and farm equipment display, a volleyball tournament, Kentucky Beef Council grilling demonstrations, a battle of the bands, Clementsville Sanctioned Truck Pull and a grill-off competition for both amateur and professional chefs. Grill-off categories include brisket, steak and burgers.

Activities such as the Carnival Corral, an educational activity sponsored by the Kentucky Cattleman's Association; a Kiss the Cow contest and Cow Paddy Bingo will keep the kids entertained, as well.

Just as in past years, the Kentucky State 4-H/FFA District Dairy Show, sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, will be held that day. The event, which begins at 10 a.m., attracts 4-H and FFA youth from around the state.

"Young people work with their project animals all year. The district shows give them the opportunity to display all their hard work," said Dana Anderson, 4-H and youth development extension agent in Mercer County and festival co-chair.

The festival continues Sunday, June 7 with a non-denominational church service at 11 a.m. and a gospel sing from 2 to 4 p.m. There will also be a cornhole tournament and an antique and classic car cruise-in.

Between events, people can sample different foods and stroll through a wide variety of booths that focus on arts and crafts, Kentucky agriculture, history and the Kentucky Proud program.

"You can have a whole day of fun with the family and not spend a lot of money," Ellis said.

For a complete schedule of events, as well as grill-off and vendor application forms, visit the Fort Harrod Beef Festival Web site, Applications for the district dairy show are available at

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