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Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad Brewfest nets more than $50K for nonprofits

CARLSBAD — Once again, beer enthusiasts left satisfied at the fifth annual Carlsbad Brewfest on Sept. 8 at Holiday Park.

Organized by the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club, this year’s edition was the biggest one yet with 1,500 people and raising more than $50,000, which will be donated to Bikes 4 the Barrio, the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation and Carlsbad Educational Foundation.

Carlsbad Brewfest Co-Chair J.R. Phillips said it was a great success.

“It was the most festive one yet, by far,” he added. “The feedback so far has been phenomenal. We will be over $150,000 raised from the first event through this year.”

The two biggest challenges though came with food and public transportation, Phillips said. The Coaster train was taken out of service last weekend, which affected attendance by at least 300 people.

Photo by Steve Puterski

Also, a pair of food trucks backed out just before the event, leaving Phillips and the organizers scrambling to fill the void. He said next year the Brewfest will incorporate food tents into the park.

The event has also seen more requests for adding more vendors to sell things like beer-related products, jewelry and other items.

“We’re going to put the food in the event,” Phillips explained. “The Coaster was down for repairs. We had about 300 tickets online that were not redeemed and I believe we would’ve had over 2,000 people in the park if not for that.”

The Brewfest also introduced VIP tickets, which were sold through club members in the spring and as a way to test the concept. Tickets were $35, although Phillips said if the club continues with them, they must figure out the perks of the tickets.

This year, VIP allowed those attendees to enter early and avoid the lines.

“We sold a couple hundred of those,” Phillips said. “We’re trying to figure out what that experience would be. What we would give them.”

Phillips said the event is based on interaction as means to draw more attendees. Since the Carlsbad Brewfest started, 30 other beer festivals within 100 miles are now on the same weekend.

So, organizers make sure plenty of games are the focus. Cornhole and hula hooping are ways, but the event’s main draws are the tortilla tossing, sack races and the ever popular “extreme musical chairs.”

Musical chairs caps the event with several dozen attendees competing. And the competitiveness of the participants is quite the show. The extreme part is the whacky tasks the competitors are required to do, such as go and find a police officer to hug, get a $1 bill from a spectator (returned of course), getting 10 pairs of shoes and many others.

The end result is people bowling over one another to get a chair, racing back to an open spot to avoid elimination.   

As for its donations, rotary will donate to each nonprofit. Bikes 4 the Barrio, meanwhile, was brought in this year and delivers bicycles to underprivileged students in the Barrio.

Chad Majer, president of One Bike Club, started the program in December 2017 and gave away six bikes. This year, however, with the help of rotary and other fundraising events, the goal is to provide up to 80 bikes for the kids at Jefferson Elementary School.