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Author Topic: For those who have organized a festival.....  (Read 1432 times)

Offline Zymurjosh

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For those who have organized a festival.....
« on: April 22, 2016, 10:29:42 am »
I wanted to hear from folks who have started their own beer fest.  Our club went non-profit a few months ago.  Unfortunately, another non profit (that has nothing to do with homebrew) already started a local homebrew fest.  Fair enough, I was beaten to the punch.  Sot this is a commercial beer fest. 

So my question or what I want to learn from you is what were your experiences?  Good or bad? What were your pitfalls?  What were the things you forgot?  What were your growing pains?  How much money did you need to pull this off?  What were your sponsorship levels like?  I feel like I don't have to reinvent the wheel here so I want to learn from others.   Thanks in advance for any help.

Offline hike20

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Re: For those who have organized a festival.....
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2016, 03:41:05 pm »
My homebrew club, the Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts, has been running an all homebrew festival since 2012. It's not huge, around 500 people attending, but we're working hard to expand it this year. There's gotten to be a ton of commercial beer festivals around here so there's no shortage of options for beer lovers. But we have lots of fun with it and we've got clubs from around the state participating. Another Iowa/Illinois club also started one last year in the Quad Cities area. I don't think another organization doing a HB fest necessarily hurts you as long as there's no date conflicts.

Like any major endeavor, you need to sit down with a core group of volunteers to draft out goals and a plan. How big do you want it to be, where will you hold it, how much will you charge, date (this is really important), how will you advertise? That's just a start. A fest is a lot of work so your group needs to be really behind the idea. You also need your club to donate a LOT of beer. For us that's not a big problem because our members love sharing beer at fests. We built a custom 10 tap portable bar and have a couple of 5-7 tap jockey boxes too, with plans to expand. We end up rotating through taps all day to get everyone's beer on. Between us and the other clubs, there's a dizzying variety of beers for attendees to sample.

We're extremely fortunate to have an awesome corporate partner, a local beer and wine store. They hold their own large commercial fest in the spring that our club has poured at for something like 10 years. They wanted to help us out and host our fest in the fall. They take care of getting city permits (we use the street in front of their store which gets closed down) and provide some things like sun shades and ice. We don't have to pay any kind of site rental or event charges. We would be hard pressed to pull it off without their help. As such, we don't have any other sponsors involved.

Offline phunhog

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Re: For those who have organized a festival.....
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2016, 10:30:59 pm »
I have not organized a festival BUT my neighbor has put on 5-6 small festivals.  I have seen all the work that goes into it at first but he has said once you get a few under your belt it is much easier.  I have poured at every festival and I can tell you what I think makes it a success.
- A mix of commercial and homebrewed beers.  We usually strive for a  50/50 mix.  People flock to the homebrewers big time since they are unique and can't find them anywhere else.
- Treat the brewers well!!  Every brewer get 4 free tickets with a free lunch included! 
-Bathrooms.....duh!!
-Food....he gets a local restaurant to donate food and then sells lunch plates.
- Don't oversell the event.  People don't want to wait 10 minutes in line for a 3 oz. pour.
- Live music.  Doesn't have to have to be anything fancy.  Some guys jamming and singing is all this festival has.
-  Provide volunteers to pour the commercial beer.  Not every brewery can afford to send an employee to pour donated beer.
-  Have professional silkscreened tasting glasses. Plastic is okay.  No solo cups.
-  Make sure ALL proceeds go to a worthwhile charity and have that charity set up a booth in a very visible location. 
- Schedule far in advance BUT also talk to other brewers.  The festival was postponed this spring because of two other nearby beer festivals are on the same date.