It will be one of their biggest events ever when 35 brewers gather under one roof for this year’s Okanagan Fest-of-Ale.
“This is a record amount and from the feedback we received in our surveys from years prior, we have a committee that picked what brews would be served. This way we have a wide variety and selection of flavours. So people won’t see 30 of one type of beer,” said Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale marketing chair Wayne Schmuck.
This year the event will feature over 100 products, ensuring there will be something to please everyone.
Three vendors will be sampling ciders, eight are new to the event and two will be showcasing gluten-free alternatives. Local brewers include Barley Mill Brew Pub, Cannery Brewing, Firehall Brewing, Orchard Hill Cidery, Summerland Heritage Cider Company, Tin Whistle Brewery. Penticton’s Bad Tattoo Brewing, which is undergoing construction currently, will have an information booth set up.
Schmuck said ticket sales are ahead of last year, as are hotel packages, which is a great sign for an event that is going into its 19th year.
“We have added a few new things like the pairing of beer with food to spark some more interest. People start to say ‘Oh, we have been there done that,’ and that is why we keep putting new things in to bring new life to the event,” said Schmuck. “The biggest thing is that we are a non-profit society and all the money raised here goes straight back into our community. Every dollar spent on food and drinks goes straight back to local charities.”
Great live entertainment will also be taking the stage this year. Five bands are scheduled to perform over the two-day event, two of which will also be performing at venues around the city after the event winds down.
Live entertainment includes the Thursday Night Jazz Band, The Dungbeatles, Flashback, Papa Wheely (also performing at the Mule Night Club on Friday and Saturday) and Joe’s Garage (also performing at the Barking Parrot on Friday and Saturday).
Since 1996, the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale Society has been bringing together beer lovers and brewers to celebrate the almighty ale at one of the biggest and long-standing beer tests in North America.
Net proceeds from the event are donated back to the community on an annual basis.
Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale takes place on April 4 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and April 5 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Tickets are $20 per person per day (plus facility, handling fees and GST).
Tokens can be purchased on site for $2 and redeemed for beverage samples or used on food (tokens vary by vendor).
Patrons will also get their chance to have their say by voting in the People’s Choice Awards. Winners are chosen from the ballots patrons submit during the event. All attending patrons receive one ballot slip with their souvenir glass. Each ballot lists the five categories; Best Beer, Best Beverage, Best Booth, Best Band and Best Food. Professional judging will also take place for industry awards.
Volunteers are still being sought to help the event. Schmuck said they currently need about 30 people to fill roles in taking tickets at the door, collecting tokens for the brewers and behind the scenes work, especially on the Saturday.
“We look after our volunteers quite well. We give them a top of the line T-shirt, free ticket for their day off and a beautiful buffet dinner after Saturday’s event is over. There are a ton of prizes and giveaways that we give to volunteers because without them this event wouldn’t take place,” he said.
Volunteers usually have a four-hour shift and can apply on the Fest-Of-Ale website or pick up an application at the Sandman Inn on Westminster Avenue.
For more on ticket and accommodation packages visit www.fest-of-ale.bc.ca or call 1-800-663-1900.