The 16th Annual Charlotte Oktoberfest

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Photo Credit Tom Henderson Copyright 2014

What an event?! And where to start in doing a lookback? There were so many amazing charities, beers, brewers (commercial & home), vendors, volunteers, and patrons that it’s difficult to even try to pin point a couple of great moments. However, I’m not one to pass up a challenge, so here goes.

Pre-Festival Activities

While the event officially opened at 12:30pm on Saturday for VIP patrons, the preparations truly escalated mid-day on Friday with brewers dropping off kegs at the refrigerator trucks and starting setup their booths. The 100% volunteer setup crew was hard at work distributing tubs, buckets, trash cans, and tables throughout the grounds, and putting up all the signs. Even the night before, things were really starting to come together.

On the day of the event, the excitement was palpable as you pulled into the NC Music Factory parking lot. The brewer check-in lines had a short wait if you arrived a little later, but the 100% volunteer brewer check-in team did a great job of moving people through quickly. It was one of the smoothest check-ins I’ve experienced. Once on the grounds, the 100% volunteer support team did an amazing job of delivering ice, kegs, and anything else brewers and vendors needed before and throughout the festival. It was a very well run event from all angles.

I got to roam the grounds before the gates opened, and got to visit some of the breweries before the VIP patrons were allowed in. I got a to sample some delicious brews from Wicked Weed (Reticent), Lake Norman Brewing (Captain Steve’s Pale), Ass Clown (dat Session IPA!), and Allagash (Curieux) just to name a few. And did I mention the amazing beers in the homebrew tent? There were a couple of sours including a flanders from Carolina Brew Masters and Paul’s sour from CLASS.

The Day Of: Gates Open

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Photo Credit Tom Henderson Copyright 2014

At 12:30, the VIP patrons descended upon the brewers, and began enjoying all the wonderful beers the festival had to offer. They enthusiastically sampled some wonderful VIP specials including a cask of Hop, Drop, & Roll from NoDa that was quadruple hopped. Having an extra 90 minutes to sample all the brews they wanted, VIP patrons had special access not only to special brews but also to the brewers and vendors themselves. The limit on tickets was such that the VIP session wasn’t crowded at all. There were few, if any, lines to get beer, and everyone seemed to enjoy the extra time without lines. At 2pm, the masses of general admission patrons that had lined up were allowed entry, and the festival really got going.

There were tons of activities in addition to sampling beer. Patrons had a chance to play frisbee golf, cornhole, giant Connect Four, giant jenga, stein hoisting, a see-saw, and live music just to name a few things. It really is unbelievable how many activities you can pack into one festival. And oh how wonderful the people watching was. Patrons came out in all manner of costumes with a wide variety of pretzel necklace configurations. To say we had an enthusiastic crowd would be an understatement. I can’t speak more highly of those that took this festival to its sold out status for yet another year.

The Charities

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Photo Credit Tom Henderson Copyright 2014
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Photo Credit Tom Henderson Copyright 2014
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Photo Credit Tom Henderson Copyright 2014

And the reason for all these shenanigans? It’s really not just about drinking beer anymore. For the 2nd year in a row, the festival raised $75,000 to be split among the 3 charities selected for this year. Those charities (along with the info from Charlotte Oktoberfest’s website) are:

  1. Camp CARE (Cancer Ain’t Really the End) provides a weeklong summer camp and year-round activities to children who have or have had cancer and their families in the Charlotte area. A child is, first and foremost, a child – not just a cancer patient. We provide support, fun and friendship throughout a family’s journey.
  2. Kids Rein interacts with the child through different teaching methodologies by using hand-over-hand, one-on-one intensive teaching, speech and verbal behavior, physical exercises, cognitive learning skills, early intervention techniques, social engagement, and social play skills. We play learning games and physical exercises on the back of a horse and the best part is… the kids love it!
  3. Classroom Central was also a 2013 Charlotte Oktoberfest Charity Recipient. Our $25k donation in 2013 provided Children and Teachers with more than $100,000 in school supplies, including: backpacks, pens, pencils, calculators as well as the basics.

Summary

This was another great showing of what a homebrew club can do with a lot of effort, help from volunteers, and generosity from sponsors, brewers, & patrons. Not only do we get to enjoy a really great day with lots of beer and fun activities, but we also get to give back to local charities, which improves our community all the more. Cheers to all who participated and made this happen!

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