If you attended last month’s All Colorado Beer Fest in Colorado Springs, you might want to hold on to that festival cup for nostalgia’s sake.

After 12 years and more than $500,000 donated to local charities, the board of the nonprofit that puts on the event is shelving the late fall fest that inspired its name.

Board chair and assistant festival director Randy Dipner said last week the decision was made after years of gradual “softening” in the amount taken in at the charity clearinghouse’s biggest annual production, which in its peak year generated $85,000 for Colorado Springs agencies including The Home Front Cares and The Gazette-El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund.

“We’d been giving away increasing amounts of money every year. Our goal was $100,000 in year 10,” Dipner said.

Around 2015, however, attendance began to trail off, from a peak of 3,200 to 2,200 at the Nov. 10 fest. Donations this year amounted to $49,000 — “a good number, but not nearly what we’d been aiming for,” Dipner said.

He attributes the decline to fest “overabundance.” When it seems like “every weekend has a beer festival, it gets harder and harder to distinguish ourselves,” he said.

Venue changes — three sites in the past three years — likely didn’t help efforts to build a bigger audience, he added.

Dipner said he knows the departure of the area’s largest indoor beer fest won’t sit well with fans, and added that the board hopes to continue the festival’s beer judging event, popular among brewers, in a different format.

While he did leave room for the chance of a revival, down the road and should the “right partners” and situation come along, he tempered that hope with a reference to the infamous “Happy Days” episode that marked the beginning of the end for the beloved 1970s TV series.

“It makes us a little sad too, but better to go out when you’re up ... before you’ve jumped the shark,” he said.

The festival’s eponymous nonprofit will maintain the ACBF name and continue its charity mission with a focus on other avenues and events, including Monument’s Bines and Brews Hopfest and the beer garden it began producing this year at the Memorial Day Meadowgrass Music Festival in Black Forest.

“Now it will be in its second year so hopefully will attract more people and generate more money we can give away,” Dipner said.


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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