Airfield best location for Beer Fest: Lewis

Photo: Evan Matthews
Michael Lewis, co-owner of Three Ranges Brewing Co., says he has a beer festival in the works for Valemount.

by EVAN MATTHEWS

Three Ranges Brewing Co.’s Michael Lewis said the Valemount Airfield is the key piece to make Valemount’s Craft Beer Fest really take off.

Lewis is proposing using the Valemount Airport as the venue to host the festival, tentatively planned for June 17 2017.

So far, the festival has eight committed vendors, Lewis said, with 10 sponsors having committed to the event, too. He also noted seven bands have asked him to play the event, rather than him having sought them out.

“We’ve had people from Prince George and as far away as Edmonton asking questions,” said Lewis. “The interest is there.”

After Lewis’ first delegation on Nov. 22 2016, Council motioned to approve support for the festival, but on the condition that safety and aviation protocol is met, as the airfield could pose issues with Transport Canada.

Making his second delegation on Jan. 10, Lewis — along with Pete Pearson, president of Branch 266 (Valemount) of the Royal Canadian Legion, and the event’s co-host — re-iterated to Valemount Council that the airfield is one of the best, if not the only, possible location for a craft beer festival in Valemount.

Lewis pointed to Joe Bullock, who Lewis said has years of professional aviation experience and will be assisting to manage the airfield. Lewis is also working alongside the Village’s Public Works Committee to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Valemount RCMP also “fully support” the event, Lewis said.

“The airfield is the venue,” said Lewis. “It really is… You’re in this amazing open space. It’s unbeatable.”

“We’re here to seek the fully committed support of the Council, and its support in going to the regional district for use of the airfield in this,” Lewis said.

As per Council’s request, Lewis said he explored both the rodeo grounds and the baseball diamond as potential locations.

“The airfield is the venue. It really is… You’re in this amazing open space. It’s unbeatable,” – Michael Lewis, co-owner of Three Ranges Brewing Co.

“The rodeo grounds have an extremely finite amount of growth opportunity when it comes to the tent area,” said Lewis. “The maximum occupancy is somewhere in the range of 450-500 people.”

With vendors included in the total, Lewis said the rodeo grounds would mean a maximum of 350 paying festivalgoers, which means diminishing the planned capacity over the first few years.

“The increased expenditure for the rental of the grounds, clean up fees, tents, etc., put a significantly greater financial burden on the event,” said Lewis.

“It takes away from the amount of money we can put forth to our charities,” he said.

Lewis also noted the rodeo grounds would be pose a much greater challenge in terms of controlling the grounds and security, something the airfield does innately.

“The fenced area of the airfield is huge,” said Lewis. “Security is a requirement for an event like this… (Because it’s fenced) the airfield is easily secured and would minimize our cost as far as security personnel.”

When looking at the ball diamond, Lewis said he accounted for neighbourhood impact, in terms sound and the number of people.

“When you have a band… and you’re talking about upwards of 500 people… it’s going to be a significant impact,” said Lewis.

Co-hosts of Valemount’s first proposed craft beer festival, Michael Lewis (left) and Pete Pearson (right) give a delegation to Council on Jan. 10, re-iterating the need for the Valemount Airport as its venue. / COURTESY OF VCTV

“Again, (the ball diamond) is more limited controllability of the people, the venue and the event,” he said.

Pearson noted accessibility as another significant factor in choosing the airfield.

“The airport is a paved area, fully accessible to everyone, regardless of any challenges,” said Pearson.

“The rodeo grounds… not so much. It’s a dirt field. The ballpark is somewhat accessible, but again, it’s about community impact.

“I’m co-hosting the event, but I don’t want it in my backyard,” he said.

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