The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 6, 2012

A brew fest raises its frothy head in Winnebago

WINNEBAGO — The city of Winnebago will become Sudsville for a day this summer.

The Faribault County community aims to bolster its visitor traffic with its first-ever Craft Brew Fest featuring more than 20 brewers and upward of 50 beers.

City Administrator Austin Bleess said talks about staging such an event began a few months ago as city officials discussed ways to bring more people into town.

The brew fest idea was settled upon despite the fact that events of this nature typically are held in much larger communities.

“It was a little bit of a challenge, but not as bad as I would have expected at first,” Bleess said of asking brewing companies to tout their wares in the 1,400-resident town.

The June 23 fest will be held in a park behind the city’s municipal building, with brewers’ samples available from 3-6 p.m., followed by beer garden fare, food offerings and musical entertainment late into the night. (Fest details available at craftbrewfest.com).

“As far as we’re aware, this is pretty much the only brew fest in southern Minnesota,” Bleess said. Mankato had a short-lived annual beer-tasting event that ceased in 2008.

Brewers at the Winnebago fest will feature the familiar — Schell’s, Leinenkugel’s, Cold Spring — and lesser-knowns such Lagunitis of Petaluma, Calif., Bell’s of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Horny Goat of Onalaska, Wis. The new Mankato Brewery also will be represented.

Bleess said the event’s scheduling purposely avoids competing with the town’s big annual celebration Moto Fest that will be held six weeks later.

All money raised from the fest will go toward community projects.

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