The staycation – the current buzzword that refers to families staying home and exploring local activities and attractions – helped boost sales for this year’s Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF). Despite warmer than usual conditions, the 22nd annual event witnessed record attendance with 72,500 people, a nearly seven percent increase over last year’s all time high of 68,000. Beer sales followed suit, showing a three percent increase. The four-day event concluded on July 26 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
“This is our second consecutive year of record setting attendance and sales, and given the economic situation, I think we can successfully state that beer is recession proof!” exclaimed festival director and founder Art Larrance.
Larrance added that organizers had been concerned about weather reports. “Earlier in the week, forecasters predicted 100 degrees for the weekend, so we really dodged a bullet.”
Temperatures still reached into the nineties, and the festival proactively set up an additional 1,000 chairs under the shade of the tree line; added 300 square feet of shaded canopy on the north end; and installed five mister stations throughout the site. Potable water was available in both beer tents, and festival goers were encouraged to bring in water and stay hydrated.
The event kicked off on July 23 with a one-mile parade by brewers and beer lovers through the streets of downtown, led by Portland Mayor Sam Adams and accompanied by the Transcendental Brass Band. Upon arrival at the venue, Mayor Adams swung a wooden mallet to drive a brass tap into the official first keg of the festival, presented by Full Sail Brewing Co.
The OBF served 81 different craft beers from 15 states across the country. The fruit beers were the top sellers, which is consistent with past years. Beer lovers came from every state in the nation, and many countries around the world, to join in the celebration. The festival annually generates an economic impact of close to $2 million for the state.
Minors and designated drivers received access to the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden, which served up complimentary cups of handcrafted root beer. Donations were accepted on behalf of the Community Transitional School. Staff from the Wallowa Valley Together Project provided education on the potential dangers, risks, and unhealthy community norms associated with underage drinking; they were joined by high-school students of Teens Against Drugs & Alcohol, who promoted their “None before 21” campaign.
The Oregon Brewers Festival was founded in 1988 as an opportunity to expose the public to microbrews at a time when the craft brewing industry was just getting off the ground. Today, that industry has succeeded, especially in Oregon, where 73 brewing companies operate 96 brewing facilities. There are 30 breweries operating within the Portland city limits, more than any other city in the world; the Portland metro area boasts 38 breweries, more than any other metro area in the world.
The Oregon Brewers Festival always takes place the last full weekend in July. The 2010 dates are July 22 through 25. For more information, visit www.oregonbrewfest.com.