OBF Booms Again
July 31, 2008 - America's economy may be in a downturn, but the effects didn't show at the 21st annual Oregon Brewers Festival. The nation's largest outdoor craft beer festival witnessed record attendance with 70,000 people, a 15 percent increase over last year's all time high. Beer sales followed suit, also showing a 15 percent increase. The four-day event concluded on July 27th at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
"We weren't sure what to expect for attendance and sales given the economic situation, but we were prepared to take a hit," explained festival director and founder Art Larrance. "Instead, rising gas prices seemed to have helped us. People are staying home this summer, and many chose to partake of our city's mass transit and explore festivals taking place in their own backyard."
Larrance added that perfect beer drinking weather in the 70s and low 80s also played a large role in the increase.
Despite rising keg costs, the OBF chose to stay the course with its pricing, offering a four-ounce taste for $1 or 14-ounces for $4.
The event kicked off on July 24th with a one-mile parade by brewers and beer lovers on the city's sidewalks, led by Portland Mayor Tom Potter and accompanied by a small marching band. Upon arrival at the venue, Mayor Potter swung a wooden mallet to drive the brass tap into the official first keg of the festival, presented by Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
The OBF served 73 different craft beers from 18 states across the country. The top selling product for the third year running was Cascade Brewing's Razberry Wheat out of Southwest Portland.
The Oregon Brewers Festival was founded in 1988 as an opportunity to expose the public to microbrews at a time when the craft brewing industry was just getting off the ground.