As we near the end of summer this month, the Williams Lake Indian Band is preparing to send the hot and sunny days off in style with the new Williams Lake Beerfest.
Modelled after the popular Williams Lake Craft Beer Festival in February, this event is the latest in the WLIB’s ongoing initiative to provide new, engaging community events for the Williams Lake community.
Earlier this summer in July they hosted Williams Lake’s first Williams Lake Rib Festival, which had an overwhelming response from hundreds in the community.
The ribfest’s main organizer, Daniel Penny, a special coordinator with the WLIB, is once again heading this event. Penny has been with the WLIB for just over four months now and said he took the position because of their progressive views and the number of projects they have on the go.
“It was a good opportunity there to learn from Kirk Dressler and Chief Willie Sellars and be part of something that will last a while in our community,” Penny said.
“We’ve definitely seen in Williams Lake a bit of a gap where we could see more events. We’ve heard from the community that they’d like to see more events which is the reason we decide to do the ribfest and then also this craft beer festival.”
The feedback they received from the ribfest has really fuelled Penny’s work on the beerfest and other community initiatives geared towards wellbeing and engagement. Penny also attributed much of their success so far to the various non-profits the WLIB partners with, and all proceeds ultimately go to, to put on these events like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake, the Williams Lake Youth Soccer Association and Williams Lake Rugby Club, who will receive the money raised from the beerfest.
The Williams Lake Beerfest will occur on Aug. 31 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with tickets going for $75, Penny said, at the Williams Lake Curling Club. Once at the event, attendees will be given a pamphlet with a list of all the various beers and brewers on offer as well as enjoy food catered by Big Bar Ranch. There will also be food trucks on-site, though Penny said they’ve yet to confirm what they’ll be making.
Capacity for the event is just under 500, Penny said, with the WLIB planning to sell 499 tickets in the next few weeks since they went on sale Monday, Aug. 12. Tickets are available online at a website set up by the WLIB. Ideally, Penny said, the WLIB hopes to raise up to $10,000 for various local charities.
Penny said that they plan to have “well over 60” kinds of beer from 25 different breweries for people to sample from until the last call at 8:30 p.m., which will give people a half hour to wrap up and discuss which beer they think is the best. A ballot system will then determine which brewery receives a trophy the WLIB has had made for the winner.
Part of the reason they are hosting this event is because of clear “high demand” from the public, as the Williams Lake Craft Beer Festival at TRU tends to sell outs its tickets within a half-hour of becoming available, Penny said. All they hope to do is build off their success and provide another event of “similar stature.”
Security for the event will be provided by the rugby club while volunteers from the WLYSA and BBBSWL will be assisting with pouring the beer and set up and takedown.
When asked how the ribfest, which while popular did see complaints due to a lack of ribs as the day went on, prepared him for this beerfest, Penny was confident in his answer.
“You run into a lot of hurdles when planning for a first-time event and once you get one under your belt, there are lots of takeaways and lots of people willing to collaborate to move forward,” Penny said. “I think the big takeaway from that one is to try and get the message out as early as possible so that people are aware of the event and can buy tickets ahead of time. That way we can count on one kind of capacity to expect at the event and be prepared for high demand.”
His greatest hope for the event, however, is that people stay safe during and after the event.
To this end, the WLIB will have a charter system set up to provide people with a ride home or to Boston Pizza for an after-party.