This Saturday, the Lakewood Ranch International Beer Festival returns for its fourth year. The festival takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. in its new location at the Sarasota Polo Club, where guests can sample more than 80 beers, chow down on food and enjoy the new beer carnival. We chatted with festival organizer Patrick Green to talk about the event's origins, what to expect this year and his love for craft beer.
The International Beer Festival is celebrating its fourth year — tell me about how it got started.
I'm from Lakewood Ranch. I went to Lakewood Ranch High School, and I had this idea to have a beer festival here. I was already running Brewed Life, which is a lifestyle brand that focuses on craft beer, so it was a good fit. We would promote our brand at beer festivals, and I would take notes at at beer festivals around the country. So I approached Lakewood Ranch about it, and it went really well. This year, we're kind of on our own, hosting it through Brewed Life.
And you're in a new location. How did that come about?
The previous three were held on Main Street, but this year, we decided to move to the Sarasota Polo Club. There's a lot of flexibility, and there's more room. It's becoming more well known for hosting events, too.
Why was Lakewood Ranch a good fit for a beer festival?
Craft beer has been growing in popularity all over, including Lakewood Ranch. Especially after World of Beer came in, I noticed how popular they were and how people were becoming more interested. I thought it would be a good opportunity to host something like this here. I'm a huge craft beer fan myself, so I wanted to put this together. It brings together a lot of different aspects. People can try different craft beers, see local bars and learn while they're there.
How have you seen the festival grow since it first started?
It's grown leaps and bounds. The first year, there were probably 700 people. This year, there will probably be four times that many. The interest has definitely grown, and I think a lot of it has to do with the growth of the local breweries.
What can people expect this year?
We have more than 80 beers to sample, and this year, we'll have a beer carnival, too. We saw an opportunity to really entertain everyone. We'll have games for a younger market — an obstacle course, a dunk tank and some old-style carnival games. Some of the breweries have given us merchandise that will make great prizes.
We'll have Pitbull Toddler playing again, and they're always really popular. We'll have nine restaurants on site, too. And the event will benefit the Center for Building Hope.
What are you most looking forward to?
I try my best to make this an event that I'd like to go to. I get a kick out of people having a good time, and that's what it's all about for me.
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