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Jim Beam Holiday ‘Feastival’ benefits Flaget Cancer Center

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By Randy Patrick

Susan Elmore had never seen Jim Beam’s American Stillhouse before Friday night but her first impression, at the Clermont distillery’s first Holiday Feastival, was remarkable.

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“It was so beautiful!” she said.

The bourbon-glazed ham dinner served 300 people in a tent beneath hundreds of soft white lights and holiday greenery.

While the setting was elegant, the attire was casual, and tickets were only $10 for a sumptuous spread.

One hundred percent of the proceeds went to the Flaget Cancer Center’s Project Hope to help pay for 3D mammography.

The guests came from all over Central Kentucky, but Elmore and her friend, Francis Lambert, found some other Nelson County folks and shared a table with them. The group included the Edelens — Willie, Grace, Lisa and Logan — and Sally Mattingly, as well as another couple, from Louisville.

“It was wonderful,” Elmore said. “It was a good fundraiser for Flaget, good food and good people.”

Ron and Kim McKnight came from Louisville for the dinner, and were enjoying some 100-proof Distiller’s Cut at the bar on the second floor of the Stillhouse before sitting down to dinner.

Ron said his wife saw something about the event, and “she’s a bourbon fanatic,” so they had to come.

“I love bourbon,” she admitted, and she’s no stranger to these parts.

“My father grew up in New Haven, and he had a little bootleggin’ goin’ on back when he was young,” she said, proudly.

“This is our first run at this kind of event,” Master Distiller Fred Noe said.

The plan, he said, was to raise $10,000 for the 3D mammography at the Flaget Cancer Center.

“Kevin Smith, who’s on the board works here with us, and it’s kind of his brainchild,” Noe said, but many people were involved in putting it together.

“We’ve got three seatings with 300 folks per seating and it’s sold out, so we should be able to write the $10,000 check based on the attendance,” he said.

The dinner Friday night was the first; there were two on Saturday.

The seventh-generation master distiller said the fundraiser was one his mother, Annis Noe, would have wholeheartedly supported. She worked for Flaget Hospital for 40 years. She passed away in February.

“She definitely would have been here,” he said.

Kim Bennett, a senior director who oversees anything having to do with consumer engagement, said the company wanted a charitable event open to the general public in addition to the second annual Project Hope dinner, which is next weekend.

Even those who didn’t get tickets before the dinner sold out could find plenty to enjoy, she said. There was live music by the Wooks from Lexington, cocktails for sale, free hot chocolate and apple cider, an opportunity to have digital photos made in front of a faux fireside setting inside the Stillhouse, bottle engravings, free handcrafted leather ornaments for guests, Christmas lights and decorations and Jim Beam’s first-ever nighttime distillery tours.

“Every one of us has had someone touched by cancer, so we thought this would be a good community event and a good community outreach,” she said.