Southeast Alaska State Fair to take over beer fest

Posted: Sunday, March 03, 2002

The Southeast Alaska State Fair is taking over the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival.

The 10th annual beer fest is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25.

Fair manager Herb Van Cleve said the uncertain future of the popular event, founded by the financially ailing Halsingland Hotel in 1992, prompted the fair to step in.

"We did it for a couple of reasons," Van Cleve said. Arne (Halsingland owner Olsson) basically said he wasn't going to do it again, so we just decided we wanted to take it over. We feel it's important for the town to keep the festival alive, and we needed another fund-raiser for the fair."

The event will be held under a special events liquor license, which allows five uses per year, Van Cleve said. "This will definitely use up one of them."

Haines Brewing President Paul Wheeler also will help organize the event.

"Paul's got lots of contacts in the industry, and after we talked about it, we decided to just go for it," Van Cleve said.

Van Cleve said although a budget hasn't been finalized, the fair plans to aggressively market the event, which in past years has drawn up to 800 beer lovers from around the state.

"We hope to grow on that," Van Cleve said. "We'll advertise lots and work cooperatively with the chamber of commerce to get the word out." The event will be advertised in Whitehorse, Anchorage and throughout Southeast.

Invitations are out to Alaska craft-beer brewers and beer distributors to fill Saturday's beer garden, which will be held from 1-6 p.m. at Payson's Pavilion. Juneau's Alaskan Brewing will oversee the homebrew contest, which will be sanctioned by the American Homebrew Association.

The fair is advertising for a caterer to prepare food for Friday's banquet, which will be held in Harriett Hall. Van Cleve said he wants to make the festival a community event.

"It's our intent to include the community as much as we can," Van Cleve said. "We feel it's a real asset to hold the festival here. It's right up there in the top three or four events of the year for drawing people to town, and we want to make sure it continues."

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