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Fun on the Shore of Lake Michigan at the Great Lakes Brew Fest

Racine, Wisconsin, has everything you need to realize your ideal getaway. Whether you're looking for attractions or participating in one of the big community events, this city is calling your name.


The spectrum of attractions in Racine is impressive. Fans of architecture must check out the buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright including the famous SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower. The art scene here is almost as unique as the buildings designed by Wright. You’ll encounter a wide variety of venues where you’ll find an assortment of artistic expression. The Racine Art Museum and RAM’s Wustum Museum of Fine Arts feature a variety of works produced by local and regional artists.


Foodies will feel right at home in Racine, but before you stop anywhere for big meal make your way to a bakery and sample a Kringle. Kringle is a Danish pastry that was brought over by the first European settlers to arrive in the area. It’s buttery, flakey, and the Wisconsin State Pastry. The unique Danish treat is a speciality in Racine, and you’ll find quality bakeries producing them all over town. The culinary scene is not just about tasty pastries. Wells Brothers Italian Bar & Restaurant is a popular option among locals and visitors alike. They have a diverse menu and specialize in pizzas and Italian entrees.


The Great Lakes Brew Fest is Southeastern Wisconsin’s largest beer festival and the perfect welcome to the fall. The event is 21-plus and will feature over 400 different beers, ciders, hard sodas, and more. Attendees will also be treated to games, beer themed activities, a variety of food vendors and live music. Held at the Racine Zoo, you’ll get to see wildlife exhibits and memorable views of Lake Michigan, all while enjoying a variety of beverages. Make your next Racine getaway a memorable one and join people from all around the country at the Great Lake Brew Fest. We got the chance to interview Zoe Jacobs, Digital Marketing Coordinator for BrewFest Partners, to talk about this unique beer event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

ZJ: It started in 2004, so this is the 13th year! Annually the event sees nearly 5,000 attendees from more than 25 states.


RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?

ZJ: Ages 21 to 93! Our oldest attendee will be returning for his 13th consecutive brew fest. He is 93 years old and made the journey to Racine from Bavaria, Germany in 1956. We see a lot of groups of people who come every year, plus many birthday groups and bachelor/bachelorette parties too!


RAL: What makes this event unique?

ZJ: The first thing that comes to mind is the location; the Racine Zoo is so cool. You'll be enjoying a beer sample and turn around and there's a tiger or an antelope in their habitat just a few feet from you. It's so fun! The monkeys greet you on your way in, the other unique attribute of the Great Lakes Brew Fest is our Homebrew Island. We're one of the only festivals to feature and highlight homebrew clubs! They usually end up bringing my personal favorite brew, just by chance. Last year it was a coconut porter from Barley's Angels Milwaukee, a women's brewing and beer appreciation club. Every year is different and the opportunity to see what the homebrew clubs are doing is so much fun and a nice break from the other breweries. We also feature lots of ciders and hard sodas too, among the 400+ beers available.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

ZJ: Patrons will find beer-centric activities, lawn games, and live music. We have a special appearance by our non-profit beneficiary, the Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps! There will be plenty of local food vendors with a variety of eats for purchase.


RAL: What is the overall environment like?

ZJ: The Zoo is such a fun place to explore! We're also right on the Lake Michigan lakefront, so we've got gorgeous views of the water to enjoy as well as the animal life!


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

ZJ: We have a partnership with the Racine Architect Hotel and Conference Center. They have a shuttle to the fest and you can find more info here.


RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?

ZJ: Sometimes! Last year there was a wedding at the Racine Architect Hotel at the same time as Brew Fest, so it was pretty full. You can never book too early!


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community? (School funds, etc.)

ZJ: Proceeds benefit the Kilties Drum & Bugle Corps, a Racine institution and one of the oldest drum and bugle corps in the country.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

ZJ: It's a huge party and this year's theme is the 1980s, so it's going to be very very fun! Get out your sweatbands and acid-wash jeans!

For more information about the Great Lakes Brew Fest, please visit their website.