The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 21, 2013

Imbibers’ spirits high as rain also wets whistles

First fest draws 600: $15G — and pint glasses — raised as city idea tastes success

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Nearly 600 attendees of the first Lake Augusta Wine and Brew Festival went for the tents when the skies opened up Saturday afternoon. They certainly didn’t head home.

The crowd was good “and happy,” said Dana Walter, winemaker at Spyglass Ridge Winery in Sunbury. “It’s been no trouble at all” despite the weather, he said, pouring yet another sample of Spy Cat, the winery’s popular Catawba-Chambourcin blend.

“I’ve seen a lot of regulars here that come to our events, plus new people trying us out,” Walter said. “It’s been really good. I’m glad we’re here.”

Sunbury’s new amphitheater on the Susquehanna River proved to be the perfect setting for the festival, featuring six wineries and 11 breweries — two of them local home-brew clubs — and a hard-cider outfit from Benton. All were well-represented, and the fun was flowing.

“Everyone here is happy, and this is a good thing for Sunbury,” said Cory Fasold, manager at Brewers’ Outlet, Sunbury, which presented the event with Sunbury Revitalization Inc. “It’s raining, and the place is packed. What does that tell you? This has been good exposure.”

Brewers’ Outlet provided 62 cases of beer for seven state-based breweries and also sold nearly all 600 tickets, at $25 a piece, for the event. Tickets were gone in mere days.

“We had very good planning,” said Zach Stotter, of Sunbury Revitalization. Even with a sellout crowd, most people were able to find tickets via Facebook or word of mouth. The $15,000 in proceeds raised will benefit continued revitalization efforts in Sunbury, “but we were not as concerned with profit as much as having a good event this time,” Stotter said.

Mission accomplished. Everyone was laughing, smiling, dancing to the music of Sean Farley and Royal Benson and having a great time.

Lori Walters and daughter Jess, both of Northumberland, were relaxing with friends and brews at a table under the tents.

“It’s great they’re doing this,” said Jess, who had been to similar festivals elsewhere. “It’s an awesome turnout.”

Lori Walters also thought the crowd was well-behaved.

“Despite all the things that could’ve happened,” she said, “this went really well.”

The festival itself was a first of its kind for Sunbury. If anyone thought it would devolve into drunken mayhem, they were wrong.

Beer vendors were having a banner day, many of them said. Marzoni’s and Susquehanna Brewing ran out of beer before they ran out of customers. Other vendors were nearing the end of their supplies with more than an hour left to the four-hour event.

Two local home-brewers, Three Beards of Northumberland and Que Brew Crew of Isle of Que, Selinsgrove, were big hits. Three Beards’ bacon brew and chocolate cookie-dough stout were tapped early. Que Brew’s River Rat, an English-style ale akin to Bass, was on the last of seven kegs with about two hours left in the festival.

“We’ve had a lot of fun,” said Three Beards’ Levi Strouse, showing just how the contraption worked to infuse the beer with bacon.

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