Good Beer Festival 2012 in pictures and text

While I’ve heard conflicting tales about attendance – I had heard 2,900 people came on Saturday while this news report claimed 4,000 – somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 people attended last weekend’s Good Beer Festival at Pemberton Park.

You can judge attendance for yourself, as I took several crowd shots over the weekend. The first group are from Saturday and were taken at 1:30 and 2:30 on Saturday. (Bear in mind the festival opened at 12:30.)

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I knew it would be a good day when I saw the lengthy line outside the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Allen Brown of Wicomico Parks and Recreation, the sponsor of the event, was holding the scissors. He was flanked by (left to right) Wicomico County Administrator Wayne Strasburg, State Senator Jim Mathias, and County Council members Stevie Prettyman, Sheree Sample-Hughes, Matt Holloway, Gail Bartkovich, and Bob Culver. Yet I noticed none of them stuck around very long, at least those I recognized.

Obviously the idea of the Good Beer Festival is to sample the brews of many different vendors, with my personal favorite being the 16 Mile brewery from Delaware.

Others, however, favored the hometown Evolution Brewery or national brands like Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, or Sierra Nevada. In all there were over 70 breweries represented.

But there was more to do than drink beer. There were games to play, like cornhole or the difficult contest shown below.

That’s my hand, by the way. Needless to say, I don’t have a knack for hooking that ring on the target.

On Sunday, the tent holding the big-screen TVs was crowded as the Ravens and Cowboys did battle.

You could even slow down and take a tour of the Pemberton house with guides in period costume like this woman.

Needless to say, there was also music – but I’m saving that for a future post.

There were also special one-day events. Saturday’s chili cookoff was a big draw, particularly considering the fall-like temperatures.

That same space was used on Sunday for a home brewer competition, which included this up-and-coming brewer from Delmar. That went better with the more summerlike weather featured on Sunday, with a high in the mid-70s.

I also ran across vendors which sold varied wares, mainly catering to a beer-drinking crowd like this apparel seller.

But this year there was a little something different. I spoke to the people working at this tent Sunday morning as I was getting reset and they said they were quite busy Saturday. No count on how many didn’t pass the test, though.

They probably didn’t have as much business Sunday, though. It was a far less crowded day, as the next series of photos taken at 2:00, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, and 5:30 attest.

One benefit of the smaller Sunday crowd: a chance for some to bring out their furry friends like this little guy.

So why was I there the whole time? It’s because I coordinate the presence of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee and help staff the tent. It looked a little spartan this year to begin with considering there are only three candidates running, and the absolute raid on our Romney items Saturday left me without much to give out Sunday (when I took the tent photo.)

I know my blogging friend Jackie Wellfonder also posted her thoughts on the event, but I wanted to add my two cents in as well.

We had a location which was sort of out of the way. The photo of the Pemberton house was taken from in front of my tent, so you can tell we were off to the side of the main traffic flow where I took my crowd pictures. Nevertheless, enough people found us over the weekend that we ran out of Romney signs and Romney/Harris signs. (Maybe Dan Bongino needs some Romney/Bongino signs since people were happy to have the Romney/Harris combos even if they wanted just Mitt.)

I spoke to people from Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York, Maine, and even Ohio while sitting in our little tent. While they assessed his chances of success differently, they all wanted to end this four-year national economic nightmare. Even shunted off to the side, we reached a lot of potential voters the Democrats may have missed because they weren’t there. Maybe they feel the wine (or is it whine?) crowd will be more to their liking because they will be present this coming weekend, as will we – I got my package in the mail today.

But as the sun set on Sunday – a pretty sunset at that – we found that the Good Beer Festival seems to have established itself as more or less equal to its older cousin, the Autumn Wine Festival; an event which will celebrate its tenth year at Pemberton this coming weekend. The GBF has grown quite a bit in the three years of its existence, and may soon have the pleasant problem of selecting from more local and national breweries than it has space to accommodate.

One conversation I struck up regarded the merits of the Good Beer Festival vs. Pork in the Park. While I still think Pork in the Park is the better festival overall, the GBF is closing in on a strong second place. And at a strategic time in the election calendar, it’s a resource candidates can use to establish themselves with a unique demographic. Shrewd Republicans who want to get a jump start on 2014 would be wise to make time next October and come see us. We’ll be there.

While I’m at the Autumn Wine Festival, you can review the bands which played this weekend as I’ll devote a new Weekend of Local Rock post to the twelve performers playing the GBF.