February’s other beer festival in Michigan

Can’t make it to West Michigan for the Michigan Brewers Guild 2011 Winter Beer Festival? Event producers at Jackson’s American 1 Event Center are hoping that you’ll console yourself with a visit to the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival.

Of course, the MBG festival is in a completely different class, and it’s not really fair to compare the two. Beer festivals in general are a great idea, and anything that might bring an infusion of people, fun and money to the downtown Jackson area is also a very good thing. So, I hope that this event, with its alluring use of the rather forlorn Jackson County Fairgrounds, is a success.

I can only guess that it was no coincidence that the two events will be held on the same day. However, by doing so, it almost guarantees that Michigan beers are poorly represented at the SMWBF. Brewers and staff members at Michigan breweries get ready far in advance for and dedicate an entire weekend or more to the MBG Festival. I doubt they’ll have the person-power to establish a presence at both events, and it’s hard to say no to a crowd of thousands! Therefore, it’s likely that most of the 85 or so beers available at the SMWBF will be from out-of-state. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing; I love many, many beers brewed across state and country lines. It’s just that having a beer festival in Michigan that really highlights Michigan-made beer would be that much better for our state and its economy.

Just like the MBG event at the Fifth Third Stadium near Grand Rapids, the Southern Michigan Winter Beer Festival will run from 1 to 6 p.m. on February 26, 2011. It will be held at the American 1 Event Center, 200 W. Ganson St., at Jackson County Fairgrounds. Admission is $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $5 for DDs.

Jackson’s Citizen Patriot newspaper published an article earlier this month about the event.


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