Jul 062010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Normally Brewfest serves as a fundraiser for The Downtown Business Association, but Programming Director Peggy Lyle said this year, that’s not the case.

Formally named the Fort Collins Brewers’ Festival, Brewfest saw a change in venue, price and attendance numbers this year.

“We did not have the numbers we anticipated. The change just might have been too much for them,” Lyle said, adding that Brewfest serves as the DBA’s largest fundraiser and the low attendance will affect its future events.

In years past, the event was in Old Town Square and has been what Lyle called an “open format,” where people could come and go as they pleased and buy tokens to sample beer.

This time around, the event was held at Civic Center Park, limited attendants to three hours of sampling and cost drinkers flat fee of $25.

The event traditionally brings out 20,000 tasters overall and Lyle said that, while she couldn’t provide exact numbers, this year the DBA didn’t see that many beer lovers.

“It’s still a great time. We are a beer town, and it’s definitely the place to be on that weekend in June,” she said. The DBA, Lyle added, is looking for community imput about the new format.

Maryann Fillingim, a senior journalism student, interns at the DBA and said during the planning process she realized the event had outgrown Old Town. Fillingim attended Brewfest last year, too.

“I had a lot of friends who were extremely skeptical, but I think the changes were necessary,” she said, adding that one great change to the event was the personal contact with brewers.

Fillingim said she would suggest extending the three-hour time limit, which was instated to combat binge drinking. The price, she said, was also “a little steep.”

Next year, Fillingim thinks the turnout will be bigger because people will learn “by word of mouth” about the positive reaction to this year’s festivities.

Kyle Koelbel, who came up from Denver to visit friends and go to Brewfest, said he’s been attending since 2008 and can point out both positives and negatives about the changes.

The new location, Koelbel said, feels a little calmer and is probably better for Fort Collins. But the event “felt quieter than years past,” and lacked the local music atmosphere and food options he expected.

“I think the upfront cost deterred people,” Koelbel said.

The one-on-one experience with brewers and fast-moving lines, he said, however, were a plus.

At the end of the day, Lyle thought the changes were positive and said the DBA will find a way to function despite the unforeseen budget constraints.

“We’re learning all the time, and we’re trying to make it better,” Lyle said.

Assistant News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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