**Update** – The Grape & The Grain Festival has been postponed until a later date. Future date is not yet specified
Cloverdale is a community that in recent years has seen its growth shoot rapidly upwards along a timeline somewhat similar to that followed by the rise in popularity of craft beer across BC. Over the past few years local beer stores have seen their craft beer sections overtake more and more shelf space while new restaurants have opened with carfully curated craft beer menus.
On the weekend of May 28th + 29th Cloverdale will take the next step towards becoming a true craft beer town. At least for that weekend, The Grape & The Grain will help make Cloverdale a craft beer destination as the festival makes history as the first of its kind at the Bill Reid Millenium Aphitheatre in the heart of Cloverdale..
The festival will see many ‘firsts’ take shape over the weekend as Phoenix Productions bring some truly fresh ideas to the world of craft beer festivals. A major clue to the uniqueness of this festival is right there in the name, “The Grape & The Grain”. For the first time in BC this festival will see the coming together of craft brewers, distillers and vinters at one venue to showcase some of the high quality adult beverages that BC has to offer.
Cloverdale is no stranger to festivals with 80,000 people expected to descend on the fairground the weekend before for the Cloverdale Rodeo. The Grape and The Grain, however, is expected to be a more laid back event as they’ll be setting up for around 2500 visitors each day and implementing some unique technology to streamline the guest experience.
All attendees will be given RFID bracelets that can be activated and linked to their profile prior to heading to the festival. The electronic bracelet will grant them access through the gates and will come pre-loaded with $20 to spend once inside. If funds start to dwindle the bracelets can be linked to a credit card and topped up on site through a mobile device. This can be done by the user manually or automatically if they choose to set a minimum balance on their bracelet. Unused funds are automatically refunded back to the credit card within 10 business days.
All this should make for a pretty slick system avoiding the need for standing in line to rip ticket stubs or manually run a credit card for more tokens. It’s a win for the customer experience, but it’s expected to be a big win for festival organizers and vendors as well. The data collected by the RFID bracelets can be used to indicate what attendees wanted most and when they wanted it which will help improve the festival in the years that come and yes, organizers are planning to bring The Grape & The Grain back to Cloverdale for a 2nd year in 2017.
With technology taking care of the tickets and tokens that are normally associated with festivals, attendees are expected to enjoy the grounds at a more leisurely pace. The primary festival producer, Paulette Garneau with Phoenix Production explains, “With the bracelets there shouldn’t be line-ups, it should go pretty fast which in turn leads the distillers and brewers that are there time to talk about their products” and interact with their customers.
10 months ago when Paulette and Lori Potts (Co-Producer with Phoenix Productions) began planning The Grape & The Grain they envisioned a festival in which attendees would be able to try a little bit of everything at a single event; wine, beer, cider and craft spirits. The market seems ripe for an event like this with the local movement as strong as ever and the more recent rise of craft distilleries changing the way Bitish Columbians pour their beverages.
In explaining the decision to create a multi beverage style festival Paulette explains that, “their are so many new distilleries in BC and so many great products coming out of BC that even 10 years ago you wouldn’t have found whisky here and you wouldn’t have found amaretto or limoncello. There is so much being made here locally that we thought, let’s try to do a 1/3 spirits, 1/3 wine and 1/3 beer.”
Unfortunately for our craft beer loving readers this first year of the festival will be a little under representative on the beer side of things. Part of this may be attributed to the challenges faced by a first year festival, but, much of it is also due to the unfortunate timing of other craft beer events clashing on the scheduled weekend.
An under representation of beer shouldn’t be a deterrant to attending though as Deep Cove Brewers, Four Winds Brewing, British Columbia Genuine Draft and Rider Cider with be represented along with a number of BC wineries and craft distillers. This a great opportunity to try something new. Enjoy some wine, sip some spirits and support the breweries. I’m hoping to see more breweries able to attend in 2017 and I’m sure the RFID data gathered this year will show a demand!
What Else Do I Need to Know About This Festival?
You know there will be beer, wine, cider, coolers and a variety of spirits, but there will be more to do at the festival aside from sampling the drinks. Organizers are hoping that instead of attendees feeling the need to rush from table to table that they’ll take the time to enjoy the full venue.
Grab something to eat from one of the food trucks, hang out at a picnic table and enjoy the live music while you sip on your new favourite beverage (until you’re ready to find your next favourite). That’s the casual feel that I think this festival is going to achieve.
There will be 5 musical acts scheduled over the 2 days with DJ’s playing music in between acts. Check the musicians list to find out who’s performing
Still need to buy tickets?
For directions, hours, rates and to buy tickets go to TheGrapeAndTheGrain.ca
CraftBeer.ca will have representatives at the festival, so, keep an eye out for our follow up article post festival.