By JB Clark
TUPELO – Beer connoisseurs, organizers and brewers agreed this year’s Tupelo Craft Beer Festival was an improvement over last year thanks to decidedly better weather and a large increase in Mississippi breweries.
Chip Jones, of Lucky Town Brewing Company in Jackson, said Saturday’s weather was perfect, compared to the freezing temperatures and snow at last year’s festival, and his table saw nonstop traffic from the time the gates opened in Fairpark.
“I like how it’s opened up this year, and I think everyone is enjoying it,” he said. “I’ve heard comments like, ‘This is my favorite beer I’ve ever had,’ and someone tried our Pub Ale and said Fat Tire was her favorite beer until she tried the Pub Ale.”
The festival featured two large tents filled with breweries from across the country and one of the tents featured exclusively local breweries, with six from Mississippi, one from Ghost River in Memphis and one for Abita, of Louisiana.
“It’s a big change from last year, moving to Fairpark, downtown, which is awesome,” said organizer Matt Leff of Rhizome productions. “We have more breweries than last year, and we’ve doubled the attendance of Mississippi breweries to six. It’s great to see the growth in craft beer in Mississippi along as well as nationally.”
Jessica Hollinger of Tupelo Main Street Association said last year’s event drew about 800 people to Veteran’s Park, while this year’s pre-sales amounted to 700 before walk-up sales began.
“They’ve done a lot of walk-up ticket sales today,” she said. “And just looking around at the crowd it looks like a great turnout and everyone is having a good time.”
She estimated about 1,300 festivalgoers Saturday afternoon.
Mississippi breweries in attendance were Lazy Magnolia, of Kiln, Yalobusha Brewing Company, of Water Valley, Southern Prohibition Brewing, of Hattiesburg, Oxford Brewing Company, Lucky Town, and Crooked Letter Brewing Company, of Ocean Springs.
Bruce Wooten of West Point said this year’s event is an improvement over last year.
“I came for the festival and my family from Tupelo came out to visit me,” he said. “I was here last year and froze. I like it’s grown and it’s better here.”