STORY WRITTEN BY FLINT McCOLGAN
@flintmccolgan on Twitter
Downtown Lancaster becomes a tent city Saturday, Sept. 6 as thousands of people are expected to gather in one city block to guzzle beer at the second annual Lancaster Craft Beerfest.
Organizers designed this year’s event to be larger.
The City of Lancaster will cut off traffic on the 100 block of Queen Street for the festival. Beer vendors will set up tents on the Lancaster Square Side and live music can be heard coming from the event’s expansion into Binns Park, according to event organizer Jonathan Yeager.
There’s also more beer. Yeager expects around 50 breweries will attend this year’s festival, which is 16 more than the 34 featured last year.
Last year the festival sold out with about 2,100 attendees in just the Lancaster Square side of the block. This year Yeager is expecting about 3,000 people.
“It was quite crowded for that little space,” said Stephen Demczuk, founder and president of Raven Beer, of last year’s event.
Raven Beer, based in Baltimore, was a favorite brewery last year. All four of their kegs sold out before the festival’s end. Demczuk said he will call up York-based Ace Distributing, their distributor, to ask that more beer be brought this year.
“There’s a lot of need for a large scale beer festival in Lancaster City,” Yeager said. “Me and two of my friends were talking about it and we just decided we were going to do it.”
So Joycat Events was born.
Yeager, founder and creative director of the Lancaster-based creative studio Wonderhead Collective, handles the marketing and design work. Adam Ozimek, who is a doctor of economics, handles logistics. Chris Trendler, a wine sommelier and a restaurant manager, handles presentation and organization.
“We tried to use that blend for an aesthetically pleasing and logistically pleasing beer fest,” Yeager said.
He said that when he returned home to Lancaster after living with brewers and attending beer festivals in Portland, Ore., he decided the beer festivals in this region needed to be bigger and better.
“The craft beer industry and the craft beer desire in Lancaster – or anywhere – is growing,” he said. “We wanted to create a way for a large event to celebrate the fact that there were so many craft beer drinkers.”
Tap into the scene
“It’s great for craft beers, it’s great for the breweries and it’s great for all the bars,” said Matt Kaz, the tap master of the Federal Taphouse, a restaurant and craft beer bar that is also a supporting partner in the festival.
That added exposure is good, said Federal Taphouse owner Corey Fogarty, because “craft beer is not a trend, I think it is here to stay.”
Through his various ventures in the craft beer world, Fogarty has seen rapid changes in the beers being made. Brewers, he said, are trying new things that weren’t on the horizon even five years ago like black IPAs and any beer that adds nontraditional ingredients.
Not only does it bring awareness to craft beer, he said, the festival also “brings something eclectic and entertaining to the city.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Lancaster Craft Beerfest
WHERE: 100 block of Queen Street, downtown Lancaster
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 6. Hours are 3 to 7:30 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and 4 to 7:30 p.m. for general ticket holders.
Parking: With five parking garages within two blocks of the event, Yeager said that parking is not a problem.
If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet you better hurry because they’re selling fast, Yeager said, with about 50 of them being sold each day.
Tickets are available online at www.LancasterBeerFest.com and are available in three different tiers.
VIP tickets, $55, allow you access a full hour before general admission and other perks
General admission, $40
Designated driver, $12, for those 21 and older who won’t be drinking at the festival. Drink root beer instead.