LAKE PLACID - Organizers were pleased with the inaugural year of the Lake Placid Brewfest, calling it a great foundation for an event they hope to see grow in the future.
Twenty-three brewers were set up in booths in a line through the center of the Olympic Center's 1932 Rink and offered samples of about 70 varieties of beer in total. Each attendee got a tasting glass with the Brewfest's logo on it, as well as 15 tokens they exchanged for samples.
The idea for the event came from Rob Kane Jr. and Sr., who own Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood and the brewery they operate there, Great Adirondack Brewing Company. They pitched the idea to Ted Blazer, president and CEO of the Olympic Regional Development Agency, when he was having dinner at their restaurant one night last January or February.
Lake Placid Brewfest patrons drink craft beer and chat around a real campfire in the Olympic Center’s 1932 Rink Saturday.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Blazer loved the idea after a rough winter with very little snow.
"Whenever we think of these things, I always think we could be the best at everything," Blazer told the Enterprise at the event Saturday. "So I said, 'Let's do that.'"
Blazer and his event staff at ORDA worked with the Kanes and Chris Ericson, owner of Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, to put together the event. Both companies travel around the country to brew festivals regularly.
Rob Kane Jr. was at the Great Adirondack booth set up at the event, and after being nervous that morning, he called it a huge success for a first-year brewfest.
Kane said he envisions the event moving to the Olympic Center's 1980 Rink and growing to two days in a few years. He said the first year of a brewfest is about making sure everyone is happy, and then the next years are about learning from the event's failures and successes and expanding in a manageable way.
Ericson said he was thrilled with the turnout. Numbers weren't available.
"Any time you do something for the first time, you never know how it's going to go," he said.
He was also pleased with many of the little touches ORDA put on the event. There were games like cornhole and mini-golf along the sides of the skating rink, plus a photo booth with costumes and even a campfire set up with chairs around it.
"I've been to a thousand brewers festivals, and I've never seen such a warm little touch," Ericson said of the campfire.
He also noted that it was nice to be able to wake up in his own bed that morning, which he isn't usually able to do when he goes to other festivals.
Blazer was pleased with how the event came together.
"I'm really ecstatic," Blazer said. "The turnout is beautiful; the venue looks great."
He said both the brewers and the customers seemed to be happy with everything.
"It's just great," Blazer said. "It's perfect. And it's weatherproof."
Blazer noted that fall is a good time for a beer festival, since seasonal brews like harvest, oktoberfest and pumpkin beers are all popular.
He said he plans to keep having the event every year, and he hopes it will grow.
"Lake Placid is the perfect place for this to happen," Blazer said.
Local people attending the event were happy to see a brewfest happening in their area.
"I hope they get bigger and better every year," said Saranac Laker Dave Trahey.
Katie Million, assistant director of events for ORDA, said Saratoga Eagle distributing company put a lot of work into the event as well, providing trailers to house kegs and other supplies.
She said they were shooting for about 20 breweries, and they were pleased with exceeding that number.
"The success today is seeing all the happy people coming through and sampling all the beer," Million said.
ORDA's concessionaire, Centerplate, held the liquor license for the event and trained each of its pourers to give responsible alcohol service, Million said.
"We definitely want to make sure that people are being responsible," Million said.
She said she saw a few locals at the event, but there were plenty of visitors as well. That weekend is traditionally one of the busiest in Lake Placid, with Columbus Day as well as Canadian Thanksgiving giving people an extra day off work to travel, and that's one of the reasons ORDA chose that date for the event, Million said.
ORDA marketed the event as a complement to its Flaming Leaves Festival at the Olympic Jumping Complex, which has ski jumping, live music and food.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.