BENNINGTON — The second annual Four Corners North Homebrew Festival will return to Bennington the first weekend in August, bringing with it 60 different beers to taste, live music, and entertainment appropriate for the whole family.
Visitors who pay $20 will be able to have unlimited samples of the home-brewed beers, and will be able to vote on the winners of the competition. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers. Those who aren't interested in drinking can get into the festival for free, and free homemade root beer will be provided to children by the Taphouse at Catamount Glass. There will also be numerous food vendors, and music provided by the Julie Shea Band. There will also be raffles of items donated by local businesses to offset the cost of running the event. The street festival runs from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6.
County Street will be shut down to traffic from North Street to School Street for the duration of the event, according to event organizer William Gardner, who works as a brewer at Madison's Brewing Company. He said they were increasing the size of the event this year, and would be purchasing two large tents for guest, so the event will go on rain or shine. As with last year, brewers are encouraged to decorate their tables, and a prize will be awarded to the best. The Bennington Police Department and Bennington Rescue Squad will be on hand in the event of an emergency.
"We want to make it the most well-run, smooth event possible, for everyone," said Gardner.
He said one of the major goals of the festival is to nurture local homebrewers into starting their own businesses and growing the industry in the community. He said the second place winner from last year, Jeremy Meerwarth, who brewed a watermelon single malt single hop ale, is on the schedule to have his beer tapped at Madison's in the near future, and Gardner has maintained conversations with many of the brewers from last year. In total, 38 of 44 brewers who participated last year will be back this year.
"They were actually reaching out to me as far back as February, asking when it would be this year," said Gardner. About half the brewers are local, but the rest come from as far away as Connecticut, southern and western New York, northern Vermont, and New Hampshire.
The festival will happen on the same day as the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, which is being held at Camelot Village. A free shuttle will carry people between the events every 15 minutes between noon and 3:30 p.m.
The Homebrew Festival is sponsored primarily by the businesses of Four Corners North, which refers to the intersection of North and County. The full list of sponsors includes the Tap House at Catamount Glass, Bennington Potters, Hawkins House, Home Depot, Uncle Bob's Septic, Green Mountain Tent Rentals, Earl's Service Station, Bennington Rescue Squad, Brew Your Own Magazine, the Beverage Den, Wills Insurance, Madison's, Merchant's Bank, Kevin's Sports Pub and Restaurant, and Bank of Bennington.
Tickets can be purchased online before the event, or at the door, but Gardner warned that, in order to ensure that brewers prepare enough for everyone, only 1,500 tickets will be sold. A few spots are still available for brewers, said Gardner, and they are still looking for volunteers. Anyone who volunteers to work half the event will receive either a free sampling ticket this year, or a free pass for next year. For more information, to purchase tickets, or to register, visit craftofbeer.weebly.com.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.