Washington Brewers Festival 2012 – In Review

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The 2012 version of the Washington Brewers Festival is now in the books. I have included photos below. Considering this was the first year at the new venue (Marymoor Park), I’d say the event was a raging success. I was there from start to finish, Friday through Sunday.

A bit of rain late Saturday afternoon failed to dampen the mood. At least it was warm. The weather was about as good as we should expect in June. This is the Washington Brewers Festival, after all.

The addition of a couple of Seattle’s better food trucks (Skillet Street Food and Lumpia World) were a welcome addition to the food scene. The line for Skillet was impressive all weekend. They must have sold thousands of hamburgers. People were drawn like flies by the delicious smoke billowing off of the grill and wafting across the festival grounds.

The New Location

Some people questioned the move to Marymoor Park. For the most part, the critics were silenced. The new location offered many of the same advantages as Saint Edward State Park: grass, trees, and fresh air. Unless I am mistaken, the new venue offered more space. I talked to a lot of people over the course of three days (probably hundreds) and exactly one person told me that they preferred the old location. She happens to live much closer to Saint Edward State Park, though she failed to admit that it influenced her opinion.

There have been other grumblings about the new location but there is no way to host a festival of this size without rubbing some people the wrong way. Just about every event I have ever been to in my life could have been better in some way. You have to be realistic about these things and try to understand the immense number of considerations. Perhaps the best thing, Marymoor provides room for growth.

If nothing else, the new location offers ample parking, which was always a problem at Saint Edward State Park: an issue that prevented the event from growing. Some people said that they missed the shuttle buses. I assume they are not the same people who previously complained about having to take shuttle buses to the festival. The number of people who complained about a lack of parking last year vastly outnumbered the people who complained about the lack of shuttle buses this year. Say what you will, most people want to drive to, and park at, the festival.

More People

The new location offers greater visibility and better access. I talked to more than one person who did not know about the festival until they just happened to stumble upon it. That probably did not happen too often at the previous location.

Attendance was up. Friday evening’s crowd was the largest Friday crowd in the event’s history: well over 4,000 people. Saturday was the largest single day attendance in the event’s history: well over 6,000 people. Sunday’s attendance nearly matched Saturday’s.

Okay, it wasn’t perfect.

Because of another large event taking place at the park on Sunday, the traffic getting into the festival was a bit challenging. Yes, that is unfortunate, but it is extremely easy to walk or bike to the event along the Sammamish River Trail. Heck, you could even paddle up the river in a canoe. Remember, it was never exactly easy to get into or out of Saint Edward State Park.

On Sunday some people were bothered that certain items were sold-out. Particularly the larger, WABL glasses. Chalk it up to growing pains: this was the largest Washington Brewers Festival ever. At least one brewery ran out of beer on Saturday and was missing in action on Sunday. Do that math. There was something like 17,000 people at the event this year.

A marching samba band made its way through the crowd on Sunday afternoon.

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the slightly challenging terrain. Although it was grassy, the ground at the new venue in noticeably uneven. Apparently it has been decimated by moles. This makes navigating much of the festival grounds difficult for people with mobility issues. Especially difficult to move yourself in a wheelchair. For most people it was not a problem at all, but it is certainly something that will need to be considered. Next year, maybe the festival organizers (or the Washington Beer Blog) will provide a complimentary Beer Sherpa service for festivalgoers with wheels.

If a bumpy lawn is the only problem, I’d say we are doing pretty well. We will find a way to deal with that.

Congratulations to the Washington Beer Commission. I think you knocked it out of the park.

 

14 Responses to Washington Brewers Festival 2012 – In Review
  1. Greg
    June 18, 2012 | 3:47 pm

    Sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself it was good move. It wasn’t. But cheers!

  2. Cassi
    June 18, 2012 | 4:47 pm

    I loved the move to Marymoor this year! Even though it was the highest year for attendance, we were commenting all weekend about how much less crowded it felt. We have been to the Washington Brewer’s fest the last few years and the only thing we thought this year was missing was the beast toss from a couple years back. :) Overall still my favorite beer fest of the year!!

  3. Beaux
    June 18, 2012 | 4:58 pm

    I thought it was well done. There are always challenges with events of this size. You are never going to make 17,000 people all happy. The commission does a great job of trying to make it perfect, a goal that cannot be achieved. I would like to see “the complainers” try and pull something like this off. Cheers to WA beer and all the people that work VERY HARD to make this event a success.

  4. Kendall Jones
    June 18, 2012 | 5:10 pm

    If I lived in Kirkland, Juanita, or Kenmore, it would likely be easy to convince myself that the festival should not have moved. But, alas, neither location is in my neighborhood (quite a drive either way) so I am not sure why I’d have any reason to convince myself one way or the other.

  5. Bill
    June 18, 2012 | 5:29 pm

    It was great to see some of the newer and/or smaller breweries pouring their fine concoctions – NW Peaks, Brickyard, Dirty Bucket, Lantern, and Twelve Bar, amongst others. Nice job by the commission to successfully pull off the move to Marymoor, your hard work is greatly appreciated!

  6. Hutch
    June 18, 2012 | 6:34 pm

    Ditto what Beaux said.

    On the brewery point of view, the load-in was well done and having each tent with its on gopher helped things out as well.

  7. Shiney
    June 18, 2012 | 8:24 pm

    loved the new venue! Really dug skillet and more space for better food n vendors. great job to everyone involved this year!

  8. KeefN
    June 18, 2012 | 9:11 pm

    overall it was just fabulous. grabbed a whole weekend ticket; on Friday had a bicycle and bus combo from where I worked in Bellevue, the bicycle was foldable so got a ride home in a friend’s car – perfect. Missed the Redhook triple on Friday but swung by the brewery on Sunday anyway. Again on Friday enjoyed of course Skillet. On Sunday before coming over we had Skillet at their brick and mortar in Seattle before another visit to the festival. And with the kids doing unlimited jumping down the bouncy castles I managed to run thru more of the selection. And the weather was great.

  9. Robby Leviton
    June 19, 2012 | 9:06 am

    From what I saw and heard the event was great for participants and brewers alike.
    thanks for your pretzel necklaces and everyone’s hard work to make it a success.
    see you all looking through the next pint glass.

  10. Brendan Leber
    June 19, 2012 | 1:55 pm

    The event itself was excellent. Once I was able to get to the gates and get in I had a great time.

    Getting into the event was not. $5 for parking? What did that pay for? Certainly not any orderly or well managed parking assistance. The volunteers had us drive through the people walking to the festival after they had just parked their cars.

  11. Kendall Jones
    June 19, 2012 | 2:37 pm

    Brendan, thanks for the substantive comment. Rest assured that the festival planning committee will hear about the parking issues. If they haven’t already. Big events are a regular occurrence at Marymoor. Parking really shouldn’t be an issue.

  12. Lindsey S
    June 22, 2012 | 4:27 pm

    I attended both Friday and Saturday. I work near the old venue at Saint Ed’s and thought I’d be biased and not enjoy the new location at Marymoor, but honestly I really didn’t mind the move. I did notice how uneven the ground was at Marymoor and hurt my ankle several times but it’s at a park setting and no park is perfectly flat.
    Yes parking was $5 but I am guessing people are forgetting Saint Ed’s was charging upwards of $10-15 the past few years, granted that was to deter people from driving and instead use the shuttle service.

    My biggest complaint would be that a few brewers that were suppose to be there Friday were not, also many Friday-only beers were not to be found at all. Saturday I was unable to find at least two breweries I had been looking forward to trying for the first time. Other than all of that, I enjoyed the festival. I do, however, believe that I will only be attending one day from now on.

  13. Victor
    June 22, 2012 | 4:43 pm

    I attended on Fri and Sat. Overall a great place, except all those darn mole mounds. Thanks for the pretzels, they went well with the beer. Nice talking to y’all.

  14. Tony B.
    June 23, 2012 | 8:41 am

    I thought the new location was great, parking was much easier. I wonder with all of the space if it might make more sense to spread things out a bit. Most of the congestion in festival are due to people milling around the queue lines. That’s my complaint for any festival though.