LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The gates are open and the music is playing at the Bourbon & Beyond festival in Louisville.

The four-day event at the Highland Festival Grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center features dozens of performers, a huge bourbon selection and a taste from local chefs.

The event hasn't happened since 2019 because of the pandemic, but it is back and has expanded to four days with more space.

Fans, like Amy McCartney, are happy to be back. McCartney said she's been waiting for the festival to return. 

"We went in '17, '18, '19 and then we were really disappointed when it was canceled in 2021," McCartney said. "They held Louder Than Life but not this one, and we were really disappointed about that. Thank God it's back." 

Some fans traveled hundreds of miles to get to Bourbon & Beyond, including Carly McKenna. 

"Fifteen-hour drive. Here we go. We did it yesterday. Hit the ground running. Got in last night at like 4 a.m. Straight drive all the way up from Florida," McKenna said. 

If you're not one of the thousands of people planning to attend Bourbon & Beyond, the event could still impact you with some added traffic in the area. You might even hear or see performers when you drive down Interstate 65.

The festival isn't the only thing happening this weekend. Churchill Downs' September meet opens with night racing on Thursday, and the University of Louisville football team hosts Florida State at Cardinal Stadium on Friday. 

"It's going to be bustling here on Central Avenue this Friday and the following Saturday," said Darren Rogers, a spokesman for Churchill Downs. "This Friday, we've got the live racing starting until 12:45, goes right into the 7:30 exciting game between U of L and Florida State. And the following week, U of L plays at noon, and we have night racing starting at 6 p.m. on the 24th."

People headed to the events should be reminded of planned construction on southbound Interstate 71. The interstate will close from Interstate 265 to Interstate 264 at 8 p.m. Friday. It won't reopen for 10 days. Detours will be in place, but plan ahead. 

The festival is bringing a large crowd that will take over the city and give an economic boost to Louisville, according to Kentucky Venues spokesman Ian Cox.

"130,000 people are expected to bring about $9 million in economic impact," Cox said. "That feeds our restaurants, our bars, our hotels. It keeps jobs in Louisville and puts Kentucky on the map."

The Louder Than Life festival later this month is expecting at least 160,000 fans. 

Jack White and Alanis Morissette headline Thursday night. More than 80 bands will take the stage over the four-day event, including Pearl Jam, Chris Stapleton, Kings Of Leon, Brandi Carlile and Greta Van Fleet, The Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary and more.

Bourbon & Beyond isn't all about the music. Local, regional and national chefs will do demonstrations on the culinary stage. Throughout the festival, the crowd can enjoy bourbon tastings, workshops and food offerings.

Among chefs doing demonstrations on the Kentucky Venues Culinary Stage are hosts Ed Lee and Chris Santos of respective Top Chef and Chopped fame. They will be joined by renowned chef personalities, including Kentucky's Chef Ouita Michel, The Food Network's Amanda Freitag, Antonia Lofaso and Damaris Phillips, among others. In addition, James Beard nominee Anthony Lamas of Louisville's Seviche will be providing a fine dining experience for Beyond VIP and Rocks guests throughout the festival weekend.

General admission and VIP passes are still on sale at BourbonAndBeyond.com

If you plan to drive, use gates two, four and six of the Expo Center. Gate one is only for rideshare pickup and drop off.

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