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San Juan Brewfest battles rain, experiences solid turnout

Durango Police Department says there were no alcohol related incidents stemming from this year’s event
Jared King, with Goldspot Brewing, pours a beer for Scott Kingsbury on Saturday during San Juan Brewfest in Buckley Park. About 35 breweries offered over 100 different beers and ciders to sample this year. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

A 45-minute torrential downpour did not stop the party at the San Juan Brewfest on Saturday at Buckley Park.

The 24th annual event saw about 1,500 participants on Saturday, with as many as 500 during the kickoff celebration on Friday night.

San Juan Brewfest raised between $40,000 and $45,000 for United Way of Southwest Colorado, according to event coordinator Tim Walsworth.

“We did sell out of every ticket we had. We even released an extra batch about 18 hours before the event started Saturday and sold every single one of them,” Walsworth said.

The festival welcomed 35 different brewers mostly from Colorado but also from states like Texas, Connecticut and New Mexico. It also featured performances from musical artists such as Cousin Curtiss, The Crags and The Buzz.

But the initial day of the event didn’t quite meet expectations, Walsworth said.

Although the event sold 500 tickets on Friday night, the goal was to reach about 700. Walsworth said there were multiple reasons this could have happened, including weather forecasts that called for rain.

He also said other commitments such as child care or later work schedules may have impacted Friday’s turnout. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was exclusively held on Saturday at Buckley Park.

Because of limits placed on attendance as a result of COVID-19, the event was forced to split into two days.

“We were one day, Saturday only, with 2,000 People in the park,” Walsworth said.

Although attendance was bigger when the event was one day, it took away from the customer experience.

“It was so crowded. We were really maxing that space out and so for all those reasons, we've stuck with two days even though we don't have to anymore,” he said.

Durango experienced up to a half inch of rain over the weekend and close to an inch over the last seven days, according to the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service. Storms this past weekend forced Brewfest participants to find shelter for about 45 minutes on Saturday.

Walsworth said this allowed participants to potentially check out other downtown businesses.

“Part of why the BID (Business Improvement District) manages this event is because we know people will go out to eat and they will stay in hotels, hit our local shops and they will learn about our town and they will come back at some point because it's great and fun,” Walsworth said.

He also said about 40% of Brewfest attendees are oftentimes tourists, with about 60% of remaining attendees being residents.

Durango Police Department Deputy Police Chief Brice Current said that Brewfest is often a pretty tame event. Officers did not report issues with public intoxication, DUI or domestic violence.

“If we do have somebody that's bouncing off a curb, or, you know, not maintaining a lane or something like that, we generally get a lot of calls from folks, and there's a pretty good partnership there,” Current said.


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