The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. It’s home to 11 of the 13 major climate zones, giving travelers an abundance of opportunities for outdoor exploration. Visitors to the island will find an impressive selection of things to do ranging from community beer festivals to stargazing on the summit of Mauna Kea.
The Kona Brewers Festival celebrates the founding of the Kona Brewing Company, which opened 22 years ago. Patrons will encounter a showcase of craft beer from all over America and a selection of food from some of the top restaurants on the Big Island. The festival is open to all adults and event planners expect around 4,000 attendees. Festivities kick-off with a traditional Hawaiian blessing with hula halau, after which attendees can sample a variety of foods and beers, listen to live music, and meet plenty of new people. The event will also feature a Trash Fashion Show. The Kona Brewers Festival strives to benefit the community, and this year's goal will be to raise $115,000 to support environmental, youth, and cultural programs. We got the chance to interview Summer Carrick, Media and Marketing Specialist for the festival, to talk about this long-running beer celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
SC: The Kona Brewers Festival is celebrating its 22nd year and will take place on March 11th.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
SC: We welcome locals and visitors, and anticipate 4,000 festival goers this year.
RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?
SC: The Kona Brewers Festival is for grown-ups, and we enjoy a multi-generational crowd. We see young people, couples, and groups of friends. The Afternoon Session invites beer and culinary enthusiasts while offering a relaxed atmosphere. The Sunset Session is quite an unforgettable party.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
SC: The quality of beer from all over the United States married with fresh, local, Hawaii-style food is really what makes us unique. The entertainment includes a wildly entertaining "Trash Fashion Show" that showcases creative uses of common household trash in a whimsical performance. The show gives audiences a chance to laugh, dance, wonder, and experience the delight of each surprise fashion piece while walking away inspired to waste less year round.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
SC: Festival volunteers open the gates to a traditional Hawaiian Blessing, followed by all-you-can-eat tasting plates, a limited number of craft beer samples, live music, and the Trash Fashion Show. We close the gates and re-open for a second session to ensure ticket availability for all of our fans.
RAL: What dining options will patrons encounter?
SC: Our event isn't just pretzels and beer; it is an all-you-can-eat culinary experience with craft beers that are often unavailable in Hawaii during most of the year. You’ll find 36 of the best Big Island Chefs in booths offering 72 island-style dishes.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
SC: The festival is on the white sand luau grounds nestled against Kamakahonu Bay and looking back across the water at historic Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
SC: Our event is hosted by King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, a resort-style property. There are also several other resort properties nearby. Many surrounding areas have plenty of unique B&B's, including lodging on Kona Coffee Farms and Plantations.
RAL: Is there maybe one place in particular that guests have been flocking to since the event started?
SC: This event brings the historic Kailua-Kona Village to life, and much of the Ali'i Drive area benefits from the festival during the weekend. Lots of nearby restaurants offer food and beer pairing during BrewFest week.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
SC: This event is a tremendous collaboration of many people, groups, and businesses.
We have 36 chefs and 36 brewers, working together to showcase their work. We also put on a pre-festival 5K/10K Run for Hops that brings athletes and recreational/family participants together to celebrate health and access to trails. In addition, more than 20 nonprofits donate their volunteers to run the festival and in turn, fund their programs year round.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
SC: The festival drives business to area restaurants, lodging, transportation services, tourism, shops, and galleries.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
SC: $965,000 has been raised for Hawaii Island organizations focusing on youth, environment, and cultural programs.
RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?
SC: The two resorts report max occupancy during festival weekend.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
SC: I've been to beer festivals all over the world. I love beer and beer culture. This festival is something special. It's special because it is run by the community, for the people of this island, and with values rooted in making the world a better place. Every detail embodies this, and you can feel it in every taste. It truly is Aloha. Also, It's Beer… in Hawaii! What's not to love?
For more information about the Kona Brewers Festival, please visit their website.
Photography Credit: Couple Cups