By Tim Peck
March 8, 2006
The Annual Brewgrass Festival is a favorite among Asheville residents and others who come from quite far away to attend. The festival’s draw derives from its primary purpose: To promote high-quality microbrewed beers from the Asheville area and around the nation. A little bluegrass in the background all day long rounds out the offering as a perfect compliment to the high spirits. Last year, the festival sold out in one hour. I have attended the last two myself and already purchased my ticket for this year (on sale 3/5/06 at their website).
Festival attendees pay once for a $25.00 general admission ticket and are given a small beer glass as they enter the grounds. They can then stroll the grounds at will all day sampling various microbrewed beers pulled from cold taps that are housed in row after row of vendor booths throughout the venue—and all of this without charge. Only the food and merchandise vendors take money.
Most will lay out blankets on the ground or set up folding chairs facing the band stage. Lines are generally no more than 5 to 10 deep and move quickly. The sunny outdoor festival atmosphere keeps everyone in a happy mood and there is a general sense of camaraderie that is sustained until the festival closes after dusk. The longest lines are actually found at the portable restrooms tucked away at far corners where some take longer than others.
Among the local sponsors of the event are popular downtown pub Barley's Taproom, Greenlife Grocery, and the left-wing radio station WPEK 880 AM.