Perched in the Northern Rockies at the convergence of the five valleys, Missoula’s stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities have made it a favorite Montana destination. The Garden City certainly lives up to its name featuring more than 400 acres of city parkland, 22 miles of trails, and 3,300 acres of conservation lands. Greenough Park is a must for all visitors, covering 42 lush acres and including trails, a playground, public art, and more. The city's proximity to the University of Montana has made it a regional hub for culture and art. People interested in the local art scene should visit the Missoula Art Museum and Montana Museum of Art and Culture.
The Garden City BrewFest is the top spring beer event in Missoula, and it will take place May 5 at Caras Park. This year's edition promises to be a beer lovers dream with more than 70 beers, wines, ciders, and ciders for sampling. It’s the perfect opportunity to sample beers from Montana’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Organizers and attendees will have the chance to vote for their favorite beers in a variety of categories such as Best Bock, Best Stout/Porter, and Best IPA. Aside from all the delicious beverages, attendees can purchase meals and snacks from some of the city’s favorite food trucks including Clove Cart Pizza, Dobi’s Teriyaki, and more. Local and regional music acts including Milltown Damn, Salsa Loca, and Marshall Catch will perform live throughout the event, adding to the event’s fun and relaxing vibe. Proceeds from the event will go to the Missoula Downtown Association, which works to support, enhance, and promote the downtown area. We interviewed Marketing and Events Director for the Downtown Missoula Partnership Kristen Sackett, to learn more about this awesome celebration of brewing.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
KS: This is the 26th year of the event. The Missoula Downtown Association took control of the event around 2000 from its original organizers. It’s the oldest beer festival in Montana!
RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?
KS: The event usually averages around 5,000 attendees. Sometimes the event attracts upwards of 6,000 attendees if the weather is good.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
KS: The event is open for all to enjoy (you only have to pay if you’d like to taste the brews) so you’ll see a wide range of attendees.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
KS: Being the oldest beer festival in Montana, we have a long history of celebrating the craft beer industry, and folks respect the event for its wide range of offerings from not only Montana, but across the northwest. It’s a true community event where folks come together after the long winter to enjoy brews, food, music, and fun. Also, there aren’t many event venues that have a river right next to it and mountains in full view.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?
KS: Folks can choose from over 70 craft beer taps, wines, and craft ciders. Lively music gives folks the opportunity to dance, and if the weather is right, the chance to bask in the sun while watching surfers on Brennan’s Wave in the Clark Fork River.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
KS: There will be some of Missoula’s best food trucks including Big Dipper Ice Cream, Clove Cart Pizza, Covered Wagon Hot Dogs, Dobi’s Teriyaki, and El Cazador.
RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?
KS: It's fun and lively! Folks see the Garden City BrewFest as the unofficial kick-off to the warm weather season in Missoula and look forward to tasting brews in the warm spring sun with all of their friends and neighbors. If you’re looking for a way to truly experience what Missoula is all about, Garden City BrewFest is a near perfect personification.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
KS: Garden City BrewFest is always the first Saturday in May, so it signifies the start of warmer weather and the whole community coming alive again after a long winter. It means coming together to experience the Missoula spirit in the heart of the community. As the original BrewFest in Missoula, there is a lot of history and nostalgia behind the event that the city looks forward to every year.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
KS: Most definitely, many folks like to come down to the Saturday morning markets, hit up Garden City BrewFest for the afternoon, and then they disperse into the community for shopping and dining.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
KS: The event is a major fundraiser for the Missoula Downtown Association (MDA). The funds raised from the event help the MDA continue to support, enhance, and promote the Downtown year-round.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
KS: Events in Caras Park create an atmosphere that's hard to recreate. Folks can taste brews they usually wouldn’t be able to, enjoy a beautiful natural setting and join a community that truly loves being together. Everyone is out smiling, laughing, dancing, eating, and tasting brews together.
For more information about the Garden City Brewfest, please visit the event website.