August 28, 2018 | last updated August 29, 2018 3:37 pm

Skowhegan Craft Brew Fest, in its third year, keeps growing

Photo / Brandie Burrill Photography
Photo / Brandie Burrill Photography
The Skowhegan Craft Beer Fest Saturday features 30 Maine brewers, distilleries and wineries, and is expected to draw more than 1,000 people to the town. In its third year, the one-day event has grown in size and attendance each year.

The Skowhegan Craft Brew Festival started as a vehicle to boost the Somerset County mill town's revitalization, but it's also turned into a must-show for breweries, distilleries and wineries from across the state and those who appreciate their wares, organizers said.

The festival, scheduled for this Saturday and featuring 30 drinks vendors, sold out of its VIP tickets nine days early. General admission tickets are still available, and are also available at the gate.

Tickets so far have been sold to people from all six New England states, Quebec, New York, Texas and the Carolinas, said Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan.

The event had more than 1,100 attendees last year, up from 800 the first year, Cannon said.

The number of alcohol purveyors — breweries, wineries, and distilleries — has increased by four from last year, and there are 12 that are new to the event.

"The goal of the event is help bolster Skowhegan's revitalization efforts — to bring people to Skowhegan to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and spend money at our local businesses," Cannon said. She said it also promotes local food, further highlighting Skowhegan's reputation as an agricultural food hub.

She told Mainebiz Tuesday morning that while no hard data is available on the effect on the town's economy, anecdotally, it's a success.

She said that not only does the festival draw people from all over the state and beyond, but it also helps boost Skowhegan to area residents.

"Even people from the region have said to me, 'I never realized how cute your downtown is' or 'I'm going to come back and spend a wad of cash at The Children's Cottage.'" she said.

"Russakoff Jewelers is an annual sponsor of the event because the brew fest has brought them sales — not necessarily on the day of, but after the event because people check out the store while they are here and come back," she said. "That's what this is all about for Skowhegan. We want to bring people to our town, charm them, and hope they come back."

Maine-made vendors

Cannon said it's one of the only festivals in the state that features only Maine producers of beer, wine, cider, and spirits.

A guided tour of Maine Grains at the Somerset Grist Mill is also available Saturday, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The town closes a block of Main Street to traffic for the festival, and the VIP hour begins at 2 p.m., featuring specialty brews and free food samples not available during the general admission portion, which runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Breweries, distilleries and wineries taking part include Bigelow Brewing Co., of Skowhegan, which is also a sponsor; 2 Feet Brewing, of Bangor; Allagash Brewing Co., of Portland; Atlantic Brewing Co., of Bar Harbor; Baxter Brewing Co., of Lewiston; Bear Bones Beer, of Lewiston; Blank Canvas Brewery, of Brewer; Cayford Orchards Hardend Cider, of Skowhegan; Chadwick's Craft Spirits, of Pittston; Cushnoc Brewing Co., of Augusta; Dirigo Brewing Co., of Biddeford; Geaghan's Pub, of Brewer; Geary's, of Portland.

Also, Hidden Cove Brewing, of Wells; Kennebec River Brewery, The Forks; Liberty Craft Brewery, of Liberty; Liquid Riot Bottling Co., of Portland; Lost Valley Brewing Co., of Auburn; Marsh Island Brewing, of Orono; Norway Brewing Co., of Norway; Oak Pond Brewing Co., of Skowhegan; Penobscot Bay Brewery, of Winterport; Savage Oakes Vineyard & Winery, of Union; Tumbledown Brewing, of Farmington; Two Gramps Brewing, of Gardiner; Two Hogs Winery, of Vassalboro; Urban Farm Fermentory, of Portland; Waterville Brewing Co., of Waterville; Tree Spirits, of Oakland; Younity Winery, of Unity.

Local food merchants will sell local food, everything from poutine to tacos, Cannon said.

Music is also a feature, including acoustic artist Connor Reeves during the VIP portion, and the Nikki Hunt Band from 3 to 7 p.m. The central Maine rock group hula hoops as they cover artists including Sheryl Crow, Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen, Sublime, No Doubt, The Doors, U2 and others.


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