The Monticello Lions Club’s first ever Brewfest delivered in every sense of the word. The weather was beautiful – save for a quick, light sprinkle near the end, – the atmosphere was lively and the crowds poured in to sample over 100 different craft beers at West Bridge Park Saturday afternoon.
The idea for Brewfest came up as Lions Club members were brainstorming ideas for new fundraising opportunities: their organization supports a wide range of charities: the local food shelf, graduation scholarships, wigs for cancer patients at New River Medical Center, the Minnesota Eye Bank and more. One club member heard of a Lions Club in California putting on a similar event with success, so they gathered information and got to work.
With this idea, it appears the Lions may have hit the nail on the head. Craft beer has been gaining in popularity and interest for the past several years; according to the Brewer’s Association, craft brewing was an $8.7 billion industry in 2011, with industry growth of 13 percent last year by volume sold. Sales of craft beer have soared in recent years even with traditional beer seeing a slight reduction in sales.
Monticello’s Brewfest did its part to keep craft beer’s growth strong for 2012. The park was filled with craft beers coming from local breweries out of Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as farther-flung locales such as Vermont and Europe. Over 500 pre-sale tickets were sold and more at the door that day, and crowds gathered around the various beer tents to get their samples, hear information about how the beer was made and make notes of favorites on their Brewfest scorecards. The Lions enlisted the help of local radio station KQ-92 to help spread the word on air, and the radio crew showed up to help entertain and energize the crowd. Live music and
local food vendors rounded off the event, which lasted four hours.
Lions Club member Dan Anselment said he expects Brewfest to return to Monticello as an annual event, if all numbers came out as good as expected.
“We’re very happy with the turnout,” he said. “The weather obviously played a huge factor in getting the turnout we did today. [Mother Nature] dealt us a good hand today.”
“This is the largest scale event of anything we’ve ever done,” added Lions Club member Chad Vokaty. “What will come from this that we can give back to the community is going to be bigger than anything the club has done individually.”
“That’s what it’s all about.”