Economic impact of beer festivals is significant, Kennett Collaborative leaders say02/21/2023 03:08PM ● By Richard Gaw
Photo by Richard L. Gaw This year’s sold out Kennett Winterfest on Feb. 25 will draw 1,200 attendees and showcase selections from 60 vendors throughout Chester County, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Of the more than 1,200 revelers who will be attending this year’s 11th annual – and sold-out -- Kennett Winterfest on Feb. 25, it is very likely that their focus will be on the more than 60 local, regional and award-winning breweries who will be showcasing their finest India pale ales, session varietals, imperial porters and blonde ales.
From booth to booth, from tasting to tasting, the event serves as a calendar marker and a must-see carnival of invention, fellowship and appreciation, compacted in a small, temporary city wrapped entirely by pretzel necklaces.
Yet, for every entry fee registered for the Kennett Winterfest and its partner the Kennett Brewfest, an important and vital connection to the economic machine of Kennett Square is made.
According to the nonprofit’s 2021 annual report, nearly 60 percent of Kennett Collaborative’s entire yearly funding comes from the Kennett Brewfest and Kennett Winterfest, said Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Daniel Embree.
“Most people who attend these festivals think that their money is simply paying for the festivals, and often don’t realize that what they’re supporting is community programming that they enjoy throughout the year.
“All of the money that is raised by these two events supports Kennett Collaborative initiatives. We also partner with some wonderful sponsors who support us each year, such as Longwood Gardens, Chatham Financial, Constellation Energy, MacElree Harvey, and Square Roots Collective, among many others.”
The proceeds raised through the festivals help to fund the weekly Kennett Square Farmers Market, Third Thursdays from May through October, and the Kennett Blooms Floral Flash beautification project, which will return this June, paired with the return of the Kennett Summerfest, which debuted last year on Broad Street and featured winemakers from the region’s emerging wine industry.
“For one weekend last June, we had six temporary floral installations throughout the borough to explore, and this year, we’re hoping for a few more,” said Kelli Prater, Kennett Collaborative’s Community Engagement Manager. “It brought a lovely energy to town, all created by incredibly talented floral designers who took on installations and partnered with each other.
“It is a project that we feel helps to spread effervescence throughout the town.”
Through the financial support of the two festivals, Embree said Kennett Collaborative will continue to expand the Third Thursdays concept to include additional events, music and opportunities for engagement with shop owners along State Street.
This year’s festival promises to repeat the brewmaster magic that’s become a staple among its most loyal fans, with a local flavor added for accent. Among the participating breweries will be area favorites Braeloch Brewing and the Kennett Brewing Company in Kennett Square; Artillery, Iron Hill and Levante in West Chester; Be Here Brewing in Avondale; Animated Brewing in Coatesville; and Dew Point Brewing in nearby Yorklyn, Del.
In addition to a variety of food trucks and artisan vendors, musical entertainment will be performed by Dylan Zangwill, who returns to the Kennett Square festival scene on the back of his dynamic performances at earlier events. Known for his soulful vocals and amazing energy, Zangwill is expected to thrill the crowd with his powerful renditions of songs by Queen, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.
Despite the economic threats caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers of operating craft breweries reached all-time highs in 2020 and 2021, with 9,118 operating in the U.S. As of 2022, retail sales of craft beer in the U.S. topped $27 billion, and now make up nearly 27 percent of the entire retail beer market.
Under founder Jeff Norman’s vision and consistent allegiance from those who regularly attend each year, the two festivals have conspired to put Kennett Square on the map of a craft brewing culture that continues to surge in popularity.
“We received an email last week from a resident of Great Britain, who is scheduling a trip with his brother to attend this year’s Kennett Brewfest,” Prater said. “I asked them how they found us, and he told us that he loved the breweries that will be showcased, and also loved the many photos of people having fun.
“We have a great group of local and regional brewers, but the success of these festivals can also be traced to having the feeling of coming together,” Prater added. “Brewfest and Winterfest have become a long-standing tradition, all originated by Jeff Norman, who has a knack for pulling together a great mix of brewers. It’s then enhanced by the fact that those who attend – and who ultimately support our initiatives -- really enjoy a community event.”
Kennett Winterfest 2023 will take place from 12:30 - 4:00 p.m. at 600 South Broad Street in Kennett Square. DefCon ticketholders will be allowed entrance at 11:15 a.m.
For more information and a list of vendors, breweries and sponsors, visit www.kennettwinterfest.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].