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Brewing up a good time in W’bago

By Staff | Jul 1, 2012

The tent was raised, breweries set up, the rain stopped and Craft Brew Fest was under way for its first time ever.

The Winnebago Lions Club sponsored the sold-out event that was held in Whiting Park on June 23.

The success of the event was apparent as some breweries began to run out of samples before the end of the afternoon.

Tim Tupe of the Mankato Brewery came to Craft Brew Fest prepared for the day, bringing with him their Mankato Original and Stickum brews.

“When it’s the first time for an event like this, you never know what to expect,” he says.

Tupe has been to a few sampling events and says sometimes you will only see 70 people in attendance.

“I?had a good feeling so we brought a couple kegs for sampling,”?he adds.

A total count of 28 breweries set up for people to sample their craft brews throughout the afternoon.

Matt Nesbit of Rochester came to Winnebago with a couple of his friends just to check out Craft Brew Fest.

“It’s cool to see an event like this in a town like Winnebago,”?he says. “I can’t believe how many people are here.”

As Nesbit and friends made the rounds to the different breweries’ stands he was amazed at the way people from the community came out to support the event the way they did.

Kelli Hill from Winnebago came with a group of friends that were prepared for a top-notch craft sampling.

“You will see us with our pretzel and beef stick necklaces,” Hill says.

The group made snack food jewelry to cleanse their palates between samples.

For those Brew Fest goers that forgot their snack jewelry, food vendors were set up for the whole day. Hungry beer samplers could choose from gyros, pizza, brats or burgers.

Throughout the sampling portion of the event and throughout the beer garden, live entertainment was provided by Calamity Jean and Tombstone Trio.

Austin Bleess, Winnebago City Administrator, was happy with the success of the first Craft Brew Fest.

The idea for the event was brought to the Winnebago Lions Club as a fundraising event.

“The event needed a non-profit to back it, so we brought it to the Lions Club,”?Bleess says.

The group agreed to the event and the rest was history.

“We came out with about $10,000 profit from the event,”?Bleess says.

Half of the profits from the Brew Fest will go to the Lions Club and the other half will go into funds for the Second Annual Craft Brew Fest, which is already in the works.

“We’re hoping for more breweries to attend next year,”?Bleess adds.

He also expects that after working out some of the minor kinks from this year’s event, that they will be able to increase the amount of ticket sales from the 800 that were available this year.

In fact, they have already decided on and announced the date for the Second Annual Craft Brew Fest June 29, 2013.

“We are discussing the possibility of using the Stokley site next year,”?Bleess says.

Some other minor adjustments will need to be made for the next festival. There will be a bigger tent and the breweries will be set up back to back to create a better flow during the sampling.

“They did really well for their first time putting an event like this on,”?Tupe says. “Now they know what to change for next year to do even better.”

To stay up to date with Craft Brew Fest you can visit the website, www.craftbrewfest.com.