Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Merchants, police say beer festival went smoothly


From Friday’s Gourmet Brewers’ Dinner to Saturday’s Slammin’ Salmon run, last weekend’s Southeast Alaska State Fair 22nd Annual Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival had residents and visitors raving about the success of the two-day event.

Fair director Jessica Edwards reported “excellent feedback” about Friday’s dinner, especially chef Travis Kukull’s Waygu zabuton steak. The steak was so tender – zabuton means “cushion” in Japanese – Edwards told a guest requesting a steak knife that the utensil wouldn’t be necessary.

The Slammin’ Salmon 5K/10K run also saw a record 142 participants, Edwards said.

The tasting event, which sold out 1,400 tickets, also went off without a hitch. New games, more music and a better tent set-up kept the beer-drinkers happy, Edwards said.

“We spread out the vendors this year and that created a lot more room. It was just more relaxed because you didn’t have to worry about jostling your way into a line,” she said.

For the first time, attendees were also given a program upon entering the festival, complete with a map, music schedule, food vendor information and lists of the beer available at each tent.

Edwards said the event introduced the program to “encourage tasting and sampling and talking to the brewers,” as opposed to just randomly chugging beer.

The program’s “Festival Policies” section reminds attendees that “the festival is not a drinking contest; it is a contest of drinks. The beers at this festival are the result of a lot of hard work, craftsmanship and creativity – give them the respect they are due.”

The Home Brew Competition, which was judged Friday afternoon, drew 24 homebrewers who entered 84 beers and three meads. That’s down from last year, when the competition received 107 beer and five mead entries, said competition organizer Rob Miller.

Most beers were submitted from Alaska (Juneau, Fairbanks, Anchorage), though other entries came from as far as California, Connecticut, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington and Oregon, Miller said.

Prizes were awarded Saturday. Best of Division winners were Division 1, Lighter Beers, Josh Hoines of Joshua Tree, California, for his After Thought Lager, a light American lager; Division 2, Heavier Beers, Amy Lamonica of Juneau for her Kyle Beater, a schwarzbier; Division 3, Fruit and Specialty Beers and Meads, John Trapp of Anchorage for his Wedding Mead, a Metheglin.

The Haines Borough Police Department, which beefed up its force by importing three officers from Hoonah, received a total of 47 calls between Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Alcohol was a factor in nine of the 47 calls, and drugs were a factor in one, chief Bill Musser said.

A bag of a “controlled substance” was also turned into the department, Musser said.

Police also arrested a 23-year-old Haines man for driving under the influence, and a 21-year-old Haines man for fourth-degree assault and second-degree criminal trespass.

Police are still investigating a Saturday night accident that sent a Skagway man to a Seattle hospital with critical injuries.

Musser said police also gave quite a few warnings to people for littering and open containers in public, particularly along the Haines Highway, downtown and in Tlingit Park.

“A good portion of these warnings were issued by officers out on foot patrols, and most all of those warned were very compliant and took care of the issue,” Musser said.

Mayor Stephanie Scott said she “hasn’t received a single complaint” about festival-goer behavior. “For some reason, it just went great, as far as I know. The town seemed very quiet when I went into town on Saturday,” Scott said.

Bamboo Room and Pioneer Bar owner Christy Tengs said festival business was “fantastic.” “We had a record weekend,” Tengs said. “We had a really good crew and everybody was prepared. The weather was good, and people were happy… Everybody was well-behaved. We had no problems,” she said.

Fair director Edwards said the festival, which grosses $65,000 in ticket sales alone between the Friday dinner and Saturday tasting, is one of the fair’s biggest sources of revenue.

“It supports the rest of the business that the fair does year-round, including the property and maintaining it and the staff,” Edwards said.

Because of the event’s popularity and its tendency to sell out quickly, Edwards said ticket prices will likely increase next year. This year, tickets were $80 for Friday’s dinner and $35 for Saturday’s tasting. 


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