by Jolene Perron
The Lance – Editor-in-Chief
McGregor residents were able to enjoy their first craft beer festival this past weekend.
Ryan Raymond has made it his mission to organize a run in McGregor the last three years. Each year, Raymond said beer has always been a part of the run in the end, but this year he strived for it to be more. This year Raymond put together the first ever McGregor Mug Run and Craft Beer Festival at Co-An Park.
“I think it was time. Craft brewery is really exploding right now,” said Raymond. “It was in my plans, I just needed to get my feet wet a little bit first.”
The proceeds from the event go towards to local initiatives, one being the ERCA campaign extending the greenway trail from Windsor to Essex and the second is to the McGregor Health Centre which is slated to open very soon.
Raymond said approximately 230 runners were registered prior to the event and he had a lot of walk-ups register at the event, plus over 230 tickets for just the festival were sold prior to the festival.
Tom Scully, sales and marketing manager for Walkerville Brewery, said it’s events like these that really help local companies converse with their clientele.
“This really just brings us more in the community face,” said Raymond. “We’re really hoping to expand our role in the county and bring some of the education to people who maybe don’t have the ability to go down to the brewery all the time. It allows us to interact with them more on a personal level.”
Scully said they had a great response from the public with a wide variety of new clients as well as old clients. He said to have the community support craft breweries is important because it is up and coming in the area.
In addition to serving craft beer, David Smith showcased a tent from his store, Jake’s Hop Shop, part of Jake’s Windsor Brew, a home brew and wine store in Windsor. While Jake’s Windsor Brew has been a part of Windsor for 25 years, Jake’s Hop Shop is an extended store which was opened in May to take advantage of the growing market of craft beer.
Last year, Smith said the brewery attended Windsor’s craft beer event however they kept a very informative outreach approach to the event. They’ve taken a whole new approach to festivals this year with a live demonstration. While everyone else was making beer, Smith and his colleagues were brewing it on site for everyone to see and take part in.
“The craft beer industry is growing largely and we are in on the end for home brewers, so we sell all the ingredients and supplies for people to make [beer],” said Smith. “It’s nice to see events like this bringing that kind of crowd together … when the craft beer industry grows, the home brewing industry really grows and we’ve noticed in the last few years that it’s growing significantly and this is the kind of event where we can attract some new home brewers.”
The event also showcased food vendors such as Naples Pizza, and the concession stand for Co-An park was also open. While people drank beer and ate food, they were also able to listen to local band Bigg Wiggle as they headlined the main stage from 7:00 pm until late in the night.
Raymond said while there is a lot of planning that goes in to something like this, and nothing is ever done the way you want it to be, he’s not going to stop here. He plans for this event to be annual from here on out, getting bigger and better each time.