With blue skies, sunshine, and the end of summer looming, the eighth annual Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival captured the spirit of summer in Northern Michigan on Friday and Saturday.
This year’s festival atmosphere attracted thousands of people from near and far. Over the course of eight years, it has become known as a weekend filled with an astounding selection of brews, food, and entertainment. And each year, festival director Sam Porter aims to make the festival a bit more riveting.
“Over the two days we had over 7000 people attend including 300 volunteers, 140 musicians and over 75 brewery owners, reps and brewers,” said Porter.
This year’s festival featured over 300 beers, meads, and wines, contained four stages of live entertainment, and highlighted the an array of local food. Local faire was well represented, as well as national favorites. Michigan breweries, large and small, were represented at the festival. Breweries had favorites on tap as well as unique brews just for the festival.
The Rare Beer Tour was again part of the festival, giving attendees exclusive access to breweries’ most unique flavors. This summer’s rare beers included Rojzilla from Jolly Pumpkin (a sour amber ale), Incorrigible Reserve from New Holland (a white sour ale with Michigan berries), Canadian Breakfast Stout from Founders, and Every Wine Barrel Has A Silver Lining from Stormcloud Brewing (a saison aged in a Chardonnay barrel).
While many festival goers came to sample the best in beer, many others chose to attend to for the music. This year’s music lineup included included an eclectic mix of great talent. Acts included That 1 Guy, Billy Strings and Don Julin, Lowdown Brass Band, and Robert Randolph & the Family Band. The main act of the weekend was Grammy-nominated folk rock group The Avett Brothers, who drew in a large crowd at the end of the festival weekend.
The Silent Disco also returned this year with a few new twists. Now in its fourth year, the Silent Disco offers attendees a distinct dancing experience. Music is not blasted throughout the tent for all to hear. Rather, music is broadcast only through wireless headsets. This year, the experience became more dynamic with three-channel wireless headsets. Throughout the evening, two DJs and one live band played in the tent. Attendees were able to switch between the three diverse acts, giving them a customizable experience.
Those wishing to take their festival experience to the next level were able to this year with the addition of VIP tickets and Brew Camp. Those purchasing VIP tickets were given early access, a specialty VIP glass, and additional drink tokens.
Brew Camp extended the festival to Eagle’s Meadow in Empire, fifteen minutes from the festival. A full-weekend camping experience, Brew Camp included a late-night busking bonfire with intimate music performances and shuttle service to the festival.
“It was a new idea that offers a more affordable hospitality option that is a micro fest by itself. It’s great for folks that want to camp with brewers and musicians,” said Porter.
In fact, Porter plans to expand the Brew Camp concept at this festival and others around the country.
“This is a key element to creating a place for people to camp when attending a festival that is in the city or more urban,” said Porter.
Porter’s next events include an ArtPrize venue in a new green space park and the Winter Microbrew & Music Festival. The Winter Microbrew & Music Festival, which will also have some big changes, will be in the second week in February, in downtown Traverse City.