A tasty idea is brewing in Valemount.
With craft beer being one of the three fastest growing industries in B.C. with some 50 beer festivals in the province, a craft-beer tasting festival or “Beer Fest” in Valemount just makes sense, according to Three Ranges Brewery co-owner Michael Lewis.
“Valemount has its own craft brewery, it should have its own craft beer festival, too,” says Lewis.
“Festivals are one of the many avenues to expose consumers to new products… It would bring people from all over B.C… Alberta… Maybe further,” he says.
Lewis is proposing using the Valemount airport as a venue and aims to host the festival during June 2017. It is tentatively planned for June 17th 2017.
At the Nov. 22 council meeting, Council motioned to approve support for the festival on conditions that safety and aviation protocol is met.
“I know we had to use the airport for our Village of Valemount anniversary, and we had the drive-in movie theatre at the airport, which was well received and attended,” Councillor Sandy Salt said at the meeting.
“We were obviously able to make that happen, so I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to make something like this happen,” she said.
Lewis asked the Mayor of Valemount, Jeannette Townsend, to carry support for the idea to the regional district, as well.
“This is a great opportunity to raise the stock of this little highway stop in people’s mind’s, and to let them know we have the adventure potential here,” – Co-owner of Three Ranges Brewing Co., Michael Lewis
The area of the airport Lewis is suggesting is on the tarmac near one of the hangers, which creates the opportunity for an indoor event in the event of bad weather, as well as an outdoor event, and would be a significantly easier to clean and police to aviation standards.
In case of emergency, Lewis says the festival would be completely clear of any runway areas, meaning the festival wouldn’t prevent any aircraft from landing or taking off if need be.
The airfield will allow the event to fulfill its full potential as it grows into what Lewis believes will be one of B.C.’s premier beer festival events.
Because Valemount is so remote, Lewis says coming here simply for the event and going home isn’t an option for most people.
What Lewis and Three Ranges is proposing, is offering festival-goers the full Valemountain beer experience.
“We want an event built around a two-night stay in Valemount, and would allow festival attendees to experience other parts of our great valley such as river rafting, horse back riding, helicopter tours, jeep tours, our amazing mountain bike park and B.C.’s tallest peak,” says Lewis.
“This is a great opportunity to raise the stock of this little highway stop in people’s minds, and to let them know we have the adventure potential here,” he says.
The concept, according to Lewis, would include local businesses come together to create promotions and packages offering a couple different activities in town that may not be available to the public through any means other than the festival.
A good example of the potential beer festivals have, according to Lewis, is the Kiwanis AleFest in Prince George, which Lewis has helped organize for the last three years.
The Kiwanis AleFest Committee sold 600 tickets in six weeks during the first festival three years ago. In its second year, the committee increased tasting options and increased sales to 900 tickets, which sold in two weeks, Lewis says.
Not to be outdone this year, in the festival’s third year, Lewis says 1,000 tickets sold out in seven minutes.
“It’s growing, and it’s very popular. We want to take our event to a level few are actually doing.”
Lewis says preliminary talks with VARDA have spurred ideas like putting on a mountain bike demo during the morning and afternoon of one of the days — with thoughts of offering a shuttle to minimize the number of drivers.
The goal for year-one, according to Lewis, is to sell 500 tickets prior to the event, with 100 walk-up tickets, for a total of 600. The aim is to have tickets on sale by the end of January, according to Lewis.
“We want to organize it in a way that there is minimal impact … on community space affecting residents, yet maximize the impact for tourism, revenue coming in for local business, and creating exposure for (the region).”