Fest-of-Ale directors Gitta Schoenne (left)

Festival on tap for city’s beer lovers

Beer drinkers rejoice. Coming to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Friday and Saturday is the suds lover’s favourite event of the year in the Okanagan: Fest-of-Ale.

Beer drinkers rejoice. Coming to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Friday and Saturday is the suds lover’s favourite event of the year in the Okanagan: Fest-of-Ale.

And with only days remaining and another sell out looming organizers are urging people to grab their tickets right away.

“Sales are going extremely well and there are no tickets at the door so if you to want to go you’d better hurray,” said Wayne Schmuck, marketing chairman of the society that oversees the event. “This is a kickoff for the season, spring is here people are looking to go out and enjoy themselves and meet up with friends and colleagues they haven’t seen over the winter.

“It’s like a backyard barbecue atmosphere, easygoing, relaxed and just a lot of fun.”

He added not only will event goers have an opportunity to sample some incredible cuisine, enjoy great live entertainment and taste some of the Pacific Northwest’s best brews, it’s all for a good cause.

“How can you lose?” asked the chairman. “I think that’s why it’s snowballed, because the public realizes all the money raised goes to local charities.

“We really tend to favour the children’s’ charities. It’s not going into private coffers, not going to a national charity — there’s nothing wrong with that — but this just stays home.”

Since it began 16 years ago nearly $300,000 in cash has been raised.

Another monetary benefit is for city merchants, especially those in the service industry which is often feeling the financial pinch at this time of year.

“Because it’s really slow in April and early May we needed to create something people would want to come out to,” said Schmuck. “We have a number of buses coming from the States, Kamloops, Kelowna and one from Vancouver. These are the beer geeks, or beer tourists as they call themselves, who follow the festivals around the Pacific Northwest.”

As in the past, drinking and driving will be strongly discouraged by the society through the provision of discount taxis fares and shuttle service to the major hotels and motels.

There are also plenty of different non-alcoholic beverages on tap during the event.

“I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true, a lot of people come not just for the alcohol but for the atmosphere, the food, the entertainment,” said the chairman.

Doors open Friday at 4 p.m., wrapping up at 9 p.m., and Saturday’s schedule is from noon to 6 p.m.

Tickets are $20 plus HST, handling and facility fees. The tokens used to purchase food and beverages now cost $2 each, up over past years due to increased costs.

At press time the society was also still looking for a few more members to join the Brew Crew volunteer team to help with a variety of jobs.

Those willing to contribute a few hours will be rewarded with a free event ticket, catered dinner, T-shirt and other goodies.

“Our volunteers look after us and we look after them,” said Schmuck. “We usually average about 250 and it’s just really great to have that community support behind us.

“People just keep coming out year after year and we never turn anybody away who wants to help.”

Volunteer application forms can be downloaded at www.fest-of-ale.bc.ca.

Tickets are available at the Day’s Inn or by calling 250-493-3200; toll free 1-800-663-1900 or the above website.

 

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