Anderson County Burgoo Festival Review
(by Sharon Stewart)

Event Date:
September 25-27, 2015

Festival Location:
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Anderson County was formed in 1827. As of 2010, the population was 21,421. Its county seat is Lawrenceburg. The county is named for Richard Clough Anderson, a Kentucky Legislator, U.S. Congressman and minister to Colombia.

The county is in the heart of the Kentucky Bluegrass region along the Kentucky River. From its beginning days in the early 1800s, its heritage is preserved today and includes Civil War scrimmages, the gravesite of the late great-grandparents of department store founder J.C. Penney, the story of African American Anna Mac Clarke, and the evolution of bourbon.

Anderson County is business friendly with easy access to airports in Louisville and Lexington as well as easy interstate highway access. Nearby Lexington, Louisville and Frankfort provide dining, shopping and other activities.

Festival Review:
The festival ran for 3 days, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  We arrived around 11:00 am on Sunday to the sounds of vendors starting to unpack their goods to showcase and display, wood being tossed onto the grills - gearing up for bbq, steaks and more, the DJ setting up his music gear, tents being put up, and many festival goers anticipating a fun day!  There were two whole streets blocked off for this event.

According to the festival agenda, there was a church service (Salt River Church) held in the Burgoo stage from 9:30-10:30, Gospel Sing from 1:00-4:00, registration for the Pedal Tractor Pull from 1:30-2:00, the Pedal Tractor Pull at 2:00, and a Civil War Reenactment also at 2:00 on Sunday.

As things started to gear up you could see kids running around with their ‘animal balloon’ hats on squealing with delight, kids starting to get in line to have their try at bungee jumping, you could start to smell mesquite wood burning in the air, along with the smell of funnel cake, fried fish, Mexican food and other yummy treats! The ponies began to whine and neigh preparing for the kids to hop on their back for pony rides, several vendors were meticulously displaying their apples, tomatoes, green peppers, pumpkins and gourds on their tables, the craft vendors were offering handmade yard signs, beautiful food gift baskets with proceeds to benefit the community food pantry, every kind of handbag, scarves and dresses you could think of, handmade birdhouses and bird feeders, along with lighthouses, floral displays and wreaths.  

The food was outstanding!  Have you ever heard of burgoo? Burgoo is a spicy stew, similar to Irish or Mulligan stew, often served with cornbread or corn muffins. It is often prepared communally as a social stew. It is popular as the basis for civic fund-raisers in the American Midwest and South.

A typical burgoo is a combination of meats: pork, chicken, mutton or beef, often hickory-smoked, but other meats are seen occasionally; and vegetables, such as lima beans, corn, okra, tomatoes, cabbage and potatoes. Typically, since burgoo is a slow-cooked dish, the starch from the added vegetables results in thickening of the stew. However, a thickening agent, such as cornmeal, ground beans, whole wheat, or potato starch can be used when cooked in a non-traditional way. In addition, soup bones can be added for taste and thickening.

The ingredients are combined in order of cooking time required, with meat first, vegetables next, and thickening agents as necessary. A good burgoo is said to be able to have a spoon stand up in it. Cider vinegar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or chili powder are common condiments.  It had an interesting taste to it . . . started out tasting like a stew, then quickly turned into a vegetable soup, but also had a chili consistency.

Some of the other events that were offered on Friday and Saturday were - ghost walk, pancake breakfast, 5K Run/Walk for Sight, Dunking Booth, Corn Hole Tournament, Bingo, several bands played, demonstration on pottery wheel, patriotic service to honor our veterans, quilt show and burgoo cook off.

We really had a great time in this quaint little town, filled with really friendly people and a really well put together festival . . . we’ll be back!   

Photo Gallery of Burgoo Festival (2015)


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