Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Re-scheduled brew fest quenches thirsts

by garrison wells The Gazette - Published: August 17, 2013

More than $40,000 in the hole, the Craft Lager & Small Batch Festival Saturday still managed to draw a decent - and thirsty - crowd.

People milled outside the Norris-Penrose Event Center, tacking between brewers carrying small glasses of samples.

A brew. Rum. Vodka. Bourbon.

Under a hot sun, the lemonade stand was a lonely place.

"We've been having a good time," said Rosemary Breckenfelder, who journeyed north from Pueblo with her friend Donna Fitzimmons for the festival. It's the third year they've made the trip.

"We support Manitou," Fitzimmons said.

Their favorite was a sample of suds from Trinity Brewing Co.

"It's over there," said Fitzimmons, pointing toward the vendor. "You have to try it."

The festival was one of the casualties of flash floods that hit Manitou Springs Aug. 9, destroying several homes and businesses and killing one person. Profits from this year's festival will go to Manitou Springs to help the community.

It was delayed a week after Memorial Park, its usual site, was closed because of flood damage.

The festival lost some vendors and the flow of people buying at the entrance was down.

Festival co-founder and President Julian Heron said the delay cost the festival $10,000 in equipment and more than $30,000 in deposits.

An ice vendor couldn't make it because two of his trailers were destroyed in the flood, Heron said.

People who bought tickets for the first date were given a pass for the rescheduled event and those who couldn't make it will be given a pass to the 2014 festival or other events.

Nine months of planning had to be scrapped and then crammed into a short and painful week.

"Everybody pulled together," Heron said. "To pull a festival together this quick is pretty amazing."

Still, attendance was down by mid-afternoon, said Executive Director Davilyn Swanson.

There were 28 brewers, but some had to skip the festival because of the delay, she said.

Three bands were booked and the festival sold 800 tickets. All-day passes were $40.

Around 90volunteers showed up to help out.

"I am very pleased at the support we've gotten from brewers and patrons," she said.

Still, she added: "It's been a long month."

Vendors who count on the traffic were upbeat.

Breckenridge Distillery products were doing pretty well, said Bobbi Richards, who represents the distillery at shows in a region that includes Colorado Springs.

"Attendance is down, but not too much," she said. "This is one of our biggest events of the year."

Union Beverage LLc was test marketing infused rums under its ForeCastle Rum brand and the response had been positive, said Bonnie Mihelich.

"People are finding our choices of infusion interesting," she said.

At the silent auction, which included caps and T-shirts from brewers and bottles of alcohol, the bike from Fat Tire was the most popular. By 2 p.m., the highest bid on it was $500.For Heron, it's been a long week reorganizing the festival since the flood. He's not spent a single day at his job, just trying to keep the festival on tap.

"It's been rough," he said "But it's been 11 years. It's attached to my heart."

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