The Snohomish Brewfest is all grown up.
The brewfest that started six years ago as a small fundraiser for the Snohomish Senior Center has outgrown two different locations and is expecting more than 2,000 guests this weekend. What still remains is the brewfest’s importance to the senior center’s budget.
“The difference for us is ending the year in the black or ending in the red,” said Janet Bean, an accountant for the senior center.
After spending its first two years at the senior center and the past few years at the Snohomish Events Center, the organizers of the Snohomish Brewfest decided to move this year’s festival to Thomas Family Farm along Highway 9 just outside of downtown. The move makes for a considerable upgrade.
“Things had become too cramped at the events center, and we wanted to improve the event to better accommodate people,” said Sharon Burlison, Snohomish Senior Center executive director. “Thomas Family Farm has been wonderful to work with, and they’ve been instrumental in helping make this happen.”
The heated barn at Thomas Family Farm is 10,000 square feet and has ample room for people to roam about without having to go outside. Burlison said the extra space allows them to bring in more breweries this year, going from about 20 to 32, plus more vendors. There will also be music and two giant TV screens showing college football games.
“The farm is a big improvement. Unlike the events center, it’s all on one level and has ample parking,” Burlison said. “Access in and out of the venue is much better.”
Because of the added space, a number of breweries will be first timers to the brewfest, including Snohomish’s Lost Canoe Brewing. But this won’t be its first time at a beer festival at Thomas Family Farm, having poured at the Beer in the Barn event at the farm last month.
“I thought that it was a very nice location for a brewfest,” said Emily Langkow, who along with Amy Carruthers does most of Lost Canoe’s production brewing. “It has a lot of indoor space, separate beer garden and seating, and plenty of parking. Also the beautiful barn is a very fitting location for a Snohomish event.”
Lost Canoe and Woodinville Cider Works will be pouring in the festival’s outdoor beer garden. The beer garden is where guests can purchase full pints.
Besides serving as a main fundraiser for the Snohomish Senior Center, the brewfest has become a showcase for Snohomish beer. The Snohomish brewery scene has grown exponentially over the past year and Snohomish breweries make up nearly a quarter of those pouring at the brewfest.
“It seems like it has become part of the fabric of tradition in Snohomish and is something people mark their calendars for each year,” said 5 Rights Brewing’s R.J. Whitlow, who has poured at the brewfest for the past three years.
Unlike most beer festivals, which are generally put on by businesses or connected to beer commissions, the Snohomish Brewfest is a fundraising event only. For some, it gives the festival an even cheerier feel than the ordinary beer festival.
“The Snohomish Brewfest has always had a great feel, from the volunteers to the folks running it. Everyone is always smiling and very helpful,” said At Large Brewing owner and brewer Jim Weisweaver.
Burlison said the Snohomish Senior Center only employs three full-time staffers, so the 100-plus volunteers who put in time and effort are key to pulling the brewfest off each year.
“I’m so proud of the team,” Burlison said. “They’re instrumental in making this happen and forming the relationships with the brewers. They’ve done a great job.”
The seventh annual Snohomish Brewfest is Nov. 3 and 4 at Thomas Family Farm, 9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish. Thirty-two local breweries will be pouring beers at the event. One session from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 3 is followed by two sessions from noon to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 4. Advance tickets are $30 or $35 at the door, with proceeds going to the Snohomish Senior Center. For more information, visit www.snohobrewfest.com.