Temporary Relationships

As I look back at 2013 so far, it’s a marvel to me for a number of reasons.

At least 25 Festivals & Events* were accomplished with WEB (27+ in 2012). If you’ve never worked a festival as a vendor, then perhaps you should try it sometime. It’s a lot of labor and time, sweat (usually) and good vibes. It’s also an incredible temporary reality.

Temporary and strangely lasting, like a carnival coming to town.

Great colleagues make the fests great

Great colleagues make the fests great

You survey the venue, make a strategy and dig in. It’s noticing everything from the lighting and electricity, to lack of electricity and lighting. It’s figuring out who the voices are, people wise, from your phone calls and emails leading up to the event. It’s realizing you forgot something and working with the other folks to help you out and vice versa. It’s getting excited for the guests who will arrive always faster than they seemingly should.

Time flies when you’re working, when you’re having fun and especially when your work is fun.

There are very few people I know who work at festivals and begrudge them. In fact, as I write, I can think of no one. Why?

Because we know what we’re getting into. We’re getting into working alongside valued peers, colleagues and friends. We’re working with event folks who are working equally hard in different ways with us. We’re working to make a great life experience for the guests who choose to invest their time, energy and dollars with us.

Temporary? Sometimes. And interestingly enough the temporary times build a permanent relationship.

I tip my hat to these remarkable people today, with a particular nod to Troy, who sparked this idea; Chris, behind the scenes brilliance; Emily, formerly of WEB; Diane, WEB of CO. See you again soon, at our next event.

2013 Fests & Events for WEB

*The 25 number does not include our regular Swig & Stitch and other meet-up type events, nor Focus Groups.

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What Makes Your Festival Special?

With myriad beer festivals these days – and more coming into being all the time – what makes the festivals you’re either part of or you enjoy special?

GABF Media luncheon 2013 set up

GABF Media luncheon 2013 set up

You can look at any fest and see what is working, what’s not and what can be and needs to be altered. Or at least we can, since we participate in dozens each year.

The Great American Beer Festival offers a few special touches that serve the entire beer community:

1. The Brewpub Pavilion. They added this feature a few years ago and it’s grown to 35 breweries inside a partitioned section of the fest floor. It’s a smart way for more breweries to participate in this sell-out-quick fest AND highlights the import of brewpubs in our culture.

2. The Pro-Am booth. This year featuring “102 top collaborations” between homebrewers and pro brewers. A healthy portion of today’s pro brewers started as homebrewers.

3. The Media Luncheon. Let me pause for a moment…..This alone is value of the Media Passes we’re fortunate enough to have been accepted for. WOW! It’s a red carpet treatment featuring previous medal winning beers with incredibly delicious foods. This year there was a record 400+ media & press present for this highlight. Treating the media and press to insight, not just free entry, is a step above and well beyond. AND they know it serves a great purpose: to keep the conversation going (this post is a great example of that). The luncheon provides us with information to utilize and return to year round.

4. Badges. something as simple as Press Credentialed ID’s are helpful for all. You can see who your colleagues are, admittance is easier for organizers, and who doesn’t like to be a badge wearer!?

So examine your fests, from consumer to pro. While not all fests are set up to offer the above, there are infinite ways to adapt and fit smart strategies for all sizes of festivals for increased success.

Look at what makes them special, what needs to be discussed, and then go talk about it with the appropriate parties.

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Why Do You Go?

Why do you attend festivals? Why do you attend conferences of any sort? Have you ever stopped to consider why you want to attend events of different sorts?

I’ve definitely spent time considering this and here are some of my thoughts.

1. Fests and recreational events: One of the biggest reasons I attend fests, generally beer fests, is to work. WEB is able to talk with dozens if not hundreds of people at fests which is excellent for progress. Since we don’t make and sell beer, we’re also able to vend our quality wares and more often than not, we’re able to offer Beer EduTainment. I love the interactions with guests, friends and colleagues that come by, and enjoy the whole scene. Yes, it can get tiring, though overall it’s a happy tired since they are upbeat events.

Cheers to fests & guests. Ali/Ninkasi & Ginger

Cheers to fests & guests. Ali/Ninkasi & Ginger

2. Conferences: Education and connecting. As an independent company with a few great people working with us who are spread across the country, it’s important to connect and reconnect with those in the community and industry. As varied as our states, as diverse as a Baskin Robbins cooler, the folks we talk with and relate to are invigorating and helpful. Developing relationships make work all the better and in this industry usually transfer to real long-lasting friendships.

3. Passive Events: those that require only watching or listening. These can be refreshing in the way that they are undemanding of energy we put forth. Sitting back and taking in what someone else has to offer is re-invigorating, relaxing, and usually enlightening. Making notes, noticing tips and pointers that we can integrate and use, as well as people watching are all very worthwhile and enjoyable. These events are the mouses share (get it?) for us.

I often wonder if I weren’t in the beer profession, would I attend beer fests? The answer that I quickly come to is yes. Yes to those that are well run and organized. Yes to those that are organized, fun , tasty and truly offer a fulfilling life experience.

Thanks to those people who plan, run, and make all the cogs turn at events of all sorts: organizers, volunteers, security, vendors, sponsors, and guest.

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The Geography Of Beer Festival Attendees

Who do you meet at beer festivals? Are they people from the same town? State? Country? Are they from overseas? Visiting friends or family? In town for another reason or event and happened to find out about it?

I find the attendees at beer festivals quite remarkable in their geographic spread. Case in point:

Last weekend found the bright orange WEB tent in truly spectacular Stevenson, Washington for the Gorge Blues & Brews Fest. That geography alone was worth the trip. Say nothing of the tremendous crew and staff, volunteers that made it all happen seamlessly. I digress….

Let’s see, here’s a cross-section, as my memory serves, of the folks I met:

  • Mom & Daughter – from WA, Folks now in South Dakota (a former home state of mine)
  • Couple – Minnesota tee shirts (Twins & Saints). MN is the state I primarily grew up in.
  • Woman – Flying Saucer hat, earned in Houston TX; the same FS that good friend and colleague Ronnie Crocker took me to a few years back.
  • Man – Alaska shirt, big fan of the state.
  • Woman – lives stateside, grew up in Germany.
Gorge Blues & Brews Fest, 2013 Stevenson WA

Gorge Blues & Brews Fest, 2013 Stevenson WA

And that’s just a start. It’s almost a game to find out where people hail from. Goodness knows everyone wants to know where I live (not sure why…). And when I tell them I’ve lived in 8 different states and I started WEB in Iowa, it’s a great conversation for all.

We’ll have a few big maps at GABF this year, ala the OBF, for people to note where they are from if they choose.

Speaking of the Oregon Brewers Fest (OBF)…that’s another globally attended festival. If you are headed there, look for us and say hello.

If you’re a consumer traveling about to beer fests, we appreciate your stories and sharing your adventures. If you’re a pro, be sure to thank people from all over for attending, whether from down the street or across the globe.

Until we meet again, keep diplomacy of beer and relationships top of mind. Genuine diplomacy goes a long way towards good relations, just as tasty beer does.

Cheers –

Check out where we’ll be on our Events page by clicking here.

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Saturday Support

It’s Saturday. What are you planning to do?

One great thing to do for yourself and the greater community at large is to get some friends together and get to a local brew fest.

Get your beer fest on!

We’ll be at the 3rd annual Umpqua Brew Fest today doing our part.

Here are a few sites to help you find one in your area.

Remember!!! Homebrewers love to throw a party too – be sure to check the American Homebrewers Association calendar here too.

There are myriad resources – so search the net, the newspaper, your beer magazines, the app of choice and get your beer on ~

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Phil It Up

Phil & Larry

Phil & Larry

One of the most crazy fun people I have met and love to run into is Phil.

I had the pleasure of meeting him a number of years back now and saw him at a festival this spring.

What a treat!

Seeing Phil, now having met his equally fun, beer enthusiast wife Mary, and drinking good beer together. Fundraiser, family, and nice weather. Good Combo.

Phil has colorful stories – tells them well – and has a great laugh, positive energy, and is an overall upper. Ask him about some goat stories sometime.

Thanks Phil! Coming for a visit any time soon??

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