By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Scattered snow flurries and near-freezing temperatures didn’t keep beer enthusiasts from the first Tupelo Craft Beer Festival.
A big white tent in the middle of Veterans Park housed 30 beer vendors who offered 100 different types of beer.
Those in attendance carried a 6-ounce glass from vendor to vendor, trying each beer and then huddling around fires outside the tent to stay warm and discuss the different flavors.
“I’ve having fun even though I’m not much of a beer enthusiast,” said Chase Michael, 24, of Tupelo. “I couldn’t give you any expert quotes like, ‘tastes of mahogany,’ or, ‘apricot,’ but this one tastes a little like wood and I had one that tasted like fruit earlier.”
Michael said he tasted a bunch of good beers and only a few that were “horrific.”
Jacob Sharpe, 26, of Tupelo, was standing by one of the fires with a dark beer in his glass. “I’m drinking a mix of a chocolate beer and raspberry beer,” he said. “It’s delicious.”
Sharpe was impressed with the event and the turnout, “You don’t get a lot of things like this in Tupelo, so when someone comes in and gives us an option like this it’s amazing. And them donating 25 percent of their ticket sales to the (Tupelo-Lee) Humane Society is a big, big plus.”
The atmosphere of the event was friendly and jovial and the tent was filled with good vibes and the sounds of folk music.
“Everyone I’ve run into is as nice as they can be and they’ve done a great job putting out some fire and heaters for everyone,” Sharpe said.
Katy Clark, 25, of Tupelo, used the beer festival as a way to get her friends to visit her.
“I work in Memphis and I’m visiting (Katy) for the festival,” said Shahd Al Asadi, 24. “We’re big beer fans and beer drinkers so it’s good to see a variety of beer.”
Clark said the festival made it much easier to convince her friends to make the trip to Tupelo.
Matt Leff, the event’s coordinator, said everything was going great, despite the weather.
“The city dug holes for us to have bonfires and we have heaters and walls on the tents, so what else can you do about the weather,” he said. “I do festivals in Nashville and the owners of Yazoo Brewing Company are from Vicksburg. They were like, ‘Matt, things are getting good in Mississippi. You should look into it.’ So I came down here with them and met some good people.”
More than 800 tickets were sold online and almost 100 tickets sold the day of the event. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, which provided volunteers for the event.