EBONY Was Locked in With Louisville Tourism at the Sensory Soiree Experience

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up!” Bold words once delivered by the legendary Muhammad Ali, and when it comes to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, he’s not lying, boo! This place makes you want to grab a mint julip, toss on a fascinator or fedora and revel in the opulence you truly deserve. Seriously, can you name another place that serves as a sensory paradise while it piques your attention with a surprising history?  

Yes, we all know that some U.S. hotspots are known for their over-the-top partying and day drinking—maybe throw in an excursion or two. Nevertheless, when you want to feel grown up and unwind, Louisville must be the next place you drop the pin on your location. 

This weekend, Louisville Tourism had the awe-inspiring opportunity to host its Sensory Soiree in Atlanta that catered to everyone, from the working class to the power players and trendsetters of the A, to show them what the not-so-distant city offers. A timely event, in acknowledgment of the 150th Kentucky Derby, the good people of Louisville Tourism showed Atlantans what all the fuss regarding Bourbon City is about.  

louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.

Uniting two dynamic cities, this event “allowed Louisville to tell its story through activation,” said Cleo Battle, President, and CEO of Louisville Tourism.  

As the bourbon flowed, Derby hats mingled, and the music of Scott T. Smith moved us, there was a profusion of dishes artfully served, created by the distinctive Chef Lawrence Weeks. From cracker-crusted oysters and thunder and lightning salad to tea cakes, tastebuds were pleased.  

As I declined what would have been my fourth or fifth pass at BBQ lamb meatballs (I’m usually all veggies, y’all), Chef Weeks gave me a rundown of his inspiration for the menu and his idea of Louisville in his solemn yet warm tone.  

louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.

“Because Louisville is a transient city, it’s pulling from a lot of different places. I had to find my [own] identity through food, and I had to look into the history of my family and the history of Louisville. That made me dig deeper into history food and culture.” 

With a craving to build on the city’s existing personality, paired with his own New Orleans and Eastern Kentucky roots, he says, “I’m just connecting the dots, the city [of Louisville] is nothing but potential right now.” 

From food to fermentation, the lovely Olivia Taylor of the very flavorful Angel’s Envy Distillery said with personal conviction that what stands out the most for the city of Louisville is “the bourbon, the hospitality and the food.”  

louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.

As appealing as those things are, they are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the appeal of Louisville. Digging a bit deeper into the community aspect, Victor Yarbrough, CEO of Brough Brothers Kentucky’s first African American-owned distillery, brought a strong presence to the soiree. He cites that his company’s proximity in an economically depressed area has encouraged enrichment. “Within those two to three blocks we’ve seen the economic prosperity behind what we’ve put into the community.”  

The reach of Louisville, or any city, has always begun with its residents and expands to its visitors. Homegrown in Derby City, Chief Marketing Officer of Louisville Tourism Stacey Yates mentions, “It is one of the most underrated towns. It’s like the front porch of the South and it’s not something that you can get across with just an ad; you’ve gotta taste it, you’ve gotta hear it and you’ve gotta smell it.” As Louisville continues to develop, Yates says, “In the future we’re going to start to see the neighborhoods be more of a draw for vacation and cultural experiences.” 

louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.
louisville tourism sensory soiree
Image: EBONY.

In a time where vacation attractions will grab a travelers’ attention with the same swiftness as a school of fish, it is important to understand that specifically as people of color that Eden Bridgeman Sklenar, owner and CEO of EBONY, which is headquartered in Louisville, says, “Often, we feel we need to go to the most populated place to be seen.”  

Regarding EBONY’s presence in the city, she says without the blink of an eye, “Yes, we will play in the major cities, but Black people are doing amazing things in every city and that should be highlighted just the same in any place. We are everywhere and can be everywhere.”  

This event has bridged a gap, illuminating a growing, bustling city that deserves all respect to its name! Plan your next trip to Louisville today! Visit https://www.gotolouisville.com/ for more.

Updated: April 19, 2024 — 6:03 pm