Canberra Craft Beer & Cider Festival success

It was only a year ago that organisers of the Canberra Craft Beer & Cider Festival had to pull the plug on what was meant to be the 13th annual event due to the onset of Covid-19 and the associated restriction on gatherings.

A year later, the Festival returned, as did the exhibitors and crowds, in a new Covid-safe format that defied the threat of rain and delivered one of the most memorable events in recent years, said Festival Director, Jenny Farrell.

“There was clearly trepidation – not just because of the legacy of Covid, but also because of the serious storm and rain event that was brewing across the Dividing Range,” said Ms Farrell.

“This year’s event had support from the ACT Government because it was important to show that Canberra was ideally placed to re-start major festivals. I think all our exhibitors and all our guests would agree that it was an unqualified success.

“It did mean adjustments: we had to adapt to Covid-safe restrictions, and split the event into two distinct sessions, each ticketed, so that we could ensure that numbers were regulated.

“To cater for the Covid-safe requirements, we expanded the area, adding the lawns and roads of Batman and Gooreen Streets in Braddon to the grounds of the Mercure Canberra. This expansion was made possible through a grant from the ACT Government to support events.

“I can say very happily it went more smoothly than we could have ever anticipated. Light showers didn’t start till the final hour, and our entertainment, food and family activities were all well received.”

Some 45 local and interstate exhibitors presented over 400 craft beers and ciders for tasting. There were guest speakers, ‘expression’ and meet the brewers sessions, and for the first time, a wood chopping competition was staged, which proved a very popular addition.

Once again, the Festival helped raise funds for Rise Above Capital Region Cancer Relief, a locally based group that provides support for over 950 cancer patients.

General Manager of Mercure Canberra, Lukas Wilfling, said that the hotel was close to capacity across the weekend, with a large number of Sydney and regional NSW visitors using the Festival to enjoy a long weekend in the national capital.

“We would have doubled our occupancy compared to recent weekends,” said Mr Wilfling. “And many stayed for three nights, to allow them to visit Canberra’s other major attractions.

“What was particularly noticeable was the ‘vibe’ of the crowd at the Festival. You could see how happy they were to be able to participate in such an event, and with the Festival being spread out across the Mercure and adjacent streets, it really encouraged confidence.

“Importantly, it was a celebration of the richness of the sophisticated Canberra food, craft beer and entertainment scene. Despite what people see on TV news, we actually do have a lot of fun and community spirit in Canberra, and it really shone over the weekend.”

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