Originally Published: June 7, 2013 6:02 a.m.
PRESCOTT - After coming up with the idea for a beer tasting event with her roommate, Mile High Brewfest organizer Gillian Haley faced an odd challenge, that of convincing the Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona that an alcohol-related event would benefit their organization.
Haley serves as vice president for the local Boys and Girls Club Chapter.
"It took about a year of planning to put together the first event. It was really a gamble. I went to the board and said we should do a craft beer festival. We are in hard economic times and they said we should give it a shot," Haley said.
The event, she added, turned out to be a huge success for the organization, leading to this year's follow up festival.
The 2nd Mile High Brewfest kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at the corner of Montezuma and Goodwin Street in downtown Prescott. The brewfest features more than 75 artisan brews, including concoctions from Granite Mountain Brewery and the Prescott Brewing Company. Admission to the family, dog-friendly event is $20 at the door and includes a souvenir pint glass and six tasting tickets. VIP tickets are $30, Haley said.
Nearly 3,000 attended last year's event, with at least half traveling from outside the area to attend. Hotel sales, Haley said, were up approximately 15 percent from last year during that weekend.
"We got a bigger turnout than we thought. The craft brew industry worked with me to provide guidelines, the safest way to go about these kinds of events, liabilities and safety. We had no incidents last year. We immediately put in an application for this year after last year's event. We hope to make it a signature event," Haley said.
One change from last year's freshman outing is the location. The change, from the corner of Goodwin and Carlton to a location on Goodwin Street, is expected to help with access to the event.
"We were blocking off traffic last year," Haley said.
Thirty different breweries are expected for the June fest.
"It's all craft brew," Haley said. "We've got both local breweries coming: Prescott Brewing Company and Granite Mountain Breweries. They have helped us out so much already."
Both breweries recently worked in conjunction during last month's American Craft Brew Week, creating a special collaboration rye saison beer named Saison Sensei. Fifty cents from every saison sold went to the Mile High Brewfest fundraiser. The saison is still available for purchase.
Last year's event brought in approximately $26,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.
"Because there is a national Boys and Girls Club, many people think we get national funding. That's not correct. The funding we receive is done locally. We have minimal regional funding and, of course, we have grants and that sort of thing. Some of our grants go directly toward programming, which have certain requirements, like mentoring or homework programs. This event, for the most part, will probably take care of summer programs this year," Haley said.
Besides craft brew tasting, food vendors, face painting and live music will also be on tap. Singer Alice Wallace is slated to headline the event along with stand-up bass player Ryan Donohue. Wallace plays an eclectic mix of folk, blues and country.
"I'm not very good at completely sticking to one genre," said the southern California musician. "This year I quit my day job to do music full time. As of March I am a full time musician and have been doing a lot of trips."
The 2nd Annual Mile High Brewfest will also feature the Jamie Waldron Trio, Pat Roberts and the Hay Makers, Road One South and Pick and Holler.
For more information on the event contact the Boys and Girls Club at 928-776-8686 or email Boys and Girls Club director Kathleen Gillis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the festival online at www.milehighbrewfest.com.