May 31, 2012 | Volume 42, No.22

Wet, cold doesn't scare off brew fans

Intermittent rain didn’t seem to hinder the 20th Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival.

The fair, which organizes the event, increased the number of tickets sold this year more than 25 percent, to 1,300.

“I’d say it went very well,” said Jessica Edwards, assistant fair director. Pre-selling tickets and advertising the event would sell out helped move tickets through Internet sales. The fair discontinued gate sales this year.

The event is held in the street of the fairgrounds’ Dalton City. As the number of participants grows, organizers are discussing the event’s location, Edwards said.

“We’re still chewing on that. There are a lot of thoughts on how to improve that,” Edwards said. “Some people really like that it’s in a small area. It’s very convivial. You get into a crowd and start a song and make a toast. It’s a lot of fun.”

The fair has other options on its property, but Dalton City has atmosphere that visitors enjoy, she said.

Discussions also will occur before ticket sales are expanded again, Edwards said. “Lodging is an issue we have to look at. We’ll discuss with other people in town and on the fair board about whether the festival can or wants to grow.”

The addition of some new events, including a KHNS fund-raiser at a local bar Friday, a benefit waffle feed Sunday, and the Chamber of Commerce’s “Sudsy Pickle Challenge” were good to see, she said. “It was nice to see other organizations step up and hold other events” in conjunction with the festival, she said.

The fair organized a fun run on Saturday morning that drew about 50 participants. Those with ideas for other events to hold in conjunction with the brewfest might consider demographics, she said. As many as half of attendees are Canadian, and many are in their late twenties.

An event like an evening melodrama may not work, Edwards said. “Things that are going to attract people are going for a hike or bike ride. The longer-term impact is going to come from getting people to start exploring the area a little bit.”

Edwards said overflow camping was authorized only at Tlingit Park during the weekend, and the fair provides that option only after the festival begins and after organizers have directed visitors to commercial campgrounds and lodging.

Police chief Gary Lowe said no fights were reported at campsites or bars during the festival. “I’m happy with the results of the weekend,” Lowe said.

He said “a large number” of people walked around town with open containers of alcohol Saturday night, and police had them pour out the beverages and properly dispose of cans and bottles. Lowe said only warnings were issued and there were no repeat offenders.

“I’m sure the rain really dampered the party atmosphere,” he said. Lowe and three officers worked during the weekend.

Haines Borough Assembly member Debra Schnabel lauded the event at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I didn’t see a big mess or dead bodies anywhere. It seems to me that as a community, we handled it well,” she said.