The 22nd annual Association of Brewers Great American Brewers Festival was held this last weekend in Denver to warm weather and what appears to be good attendance. According to Cindy Jones, marketing director of the AOB, attendance for Thursday night’s session was a bit up from last year and Friday nights session was about even. No figures were available for Saturday’s day or evening session at press time.
The addition of 44,000 square feet of convention hall space gave the busy Friday and Saturday night sessions a much needed relief from the crowded feel in the past. A more diverse and better array of food vendors were also added this year. Although lines were sometimes long, this addition was a strong step in the right direction. A food pairing stage was also an added feature that was well attended and added diversity to the festival. One other much needed change was the pace of announcing the winners at the Awards Ceremony during Saturday’s afternoon session. Always highly attended by industry members, the medals were handed out to the winners on the side, not as each winner was announced, which kept the ceremony moving at a good clip.
Many in the industry have questioned just how long the GABF can stay viable, given the changing demographics of those who attend. The festival is an important revenue stream for the AOB and a decline in numbers would warrant a re-evaluation of the event. The subtle, but important changes added a bit of freshness, critical in keeping the industry and consumer coming back