A pair of local middle school teachers are bringing craft brewers from all over Vancouver Island to the Campbell River Community Centre this November for the first ever North Island Craft Beer Festival.
Kyle Leigh, a teacher at Southgate, and his wife Sarah, a teacher at L’École Phoenix, had the idea as they were traveling around the western U.S. and Canada during their past few summers off work, enjoying local brews along the way and seeing how the craft beer culture was exploding in a positive way everywhere they went.
And they wanted to do what they could to bring some of that cultural vibrancy to Campbell River.
“The idea was always threefold,” Sarah says. “To highlight Campbell River, the city we love, to highlight the brewery that we have here, that we also love, and to give to a charity that does so much for this community.”
They also wanted to use a business trend that is clearly on the upswing to bring some more attention to the community as a consideration for those looking to get into the brewing game – or for established craft breweries that want to expand.
“Craft brewing is just exploding right now,” says Kyle’s brother Taylor, a marketing specialist in Victoria, who is the third spoke of the event’s organizing wheel. “Everywhere you look, there’s another brewery that has just opened up or just about to open up. And we thought, by showcasing the region, it will at least bring in a bunch of tourism and, who knows? Maybe it encourages another brewery to open up, too. It’s a pretty untapped market, after all.”
“We want to show people that there is something after Courtenay as you come up Island,” Sarah agrees. “We’ve got great beer here, too, and a whole lot more.”
The festival itself will be a four-hour event at the Community Centre on Nov. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m.
“We’ve currently got about 14 breweries from all over the Island signed up, and basically, you’ll buy a ticket for $40 and you’ll get a sampling glass and four tokens for beer and two for food, and then you can always purchase more,” Sarah says. “Campbell River Golf and Country Club will be catering the event, a ton of local businesses are donating items for a silent auction and it’s all going to the Community Foundation to help them do what they do here.”
And while they’re going to make that four hours as great as they can, they are definitely expecting the event to grow in the future.
“It’s our first year, so we didn’t want to bite off too much,” Sarah says, “but we really have some great visions for down the road and making this into something that could go community-wide for a whole weekend.”
Having said that, the first of what they hope will be many North Island Craft Beer Festivals is shaping up well so far.
“So many people and businesses have hopped on board and are supporting the event, which is huge,” Taylor says, but adds they’re still looking for more auction items to add to the table, if any local businesses who haven’t been in touch would like to get in on the ground floor of the festival in its first year.
“We’d really love to be able to auction off experiences,” Sarah says, “like whale watching tours, hotel stays, gift certificates to local restaurants and just things that make them come back to Campbell River again, because that just benefits everyone in the long run.”
Anyone who would like to donate items for the silent auction should contact them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org