Today is a good day for the Tri-State's connoisseurs of beer. It is also a good day for the city of Ashland. Yes today is the day. Firkin Fest kicks off in the city. This is a great event for the municipality and a great event for the region.

Why?

As we've said before, the craft beer industry is a booming industry. The new jobs are flowing. The Oregonian just published a story showing the U.S. beer industry in 2018 contributed $328.4 billion toward the economy, employed 2.2 million people, and paid $58.6 billion in taxes — about 40% of the price of every beer. Jobs in the sector are up 8 percent.

Eight percent increase in jobs in a single sector? Not too shabby.

Kentucky is well versed in the power of spirits to fuel economic growth. Think bourbon. Consumers value a good product and craft beer represents this. We see great room to grow for Ashland and the Tri-State in this field. One could envision a craft beer industry in downtown Ashland or in other communities in the region that could make an immediate economic impact and provide much needed jobs in the region. If Ashland and the Tri-State chooses to rejects or ignore this market, it will do so at it's own peril as the jobs, simply put, will go elsewhere.

A model for this is already unfolding down the road in both directions. There is a nice brewery in Portsmouth. There is also a spectacular facility in Pikeville called Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery located right in the heart of downtown. It is our belief that the facility shows how Kentucky communities can draw on breweries and distilleries for tourism dollars and economic growth.

There is so much more though to Firkin Fest than beer. Music, food and shopping chances are plentiful. If you get a chance stop on by. You won’t be disappointed.