Mount Arrowsmith Brewing was one of 14 breweries represented at the first North Island Craft Beer Festival this past weekend at the Campbell River Community Centre. After the success of this year’s event, organizers have announced it’s now an annual celebration and will get to work on planning the second one to make it even better. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

First North Island Craft Beer Festival a huge success

Benefit event for the Community Foundation will officially return as an annual event, organizers say

The organizers of the first North Island Craft Beer Festival (NICBF), held Saturday at the Campbell River Community Centre, were pretty sure they were onto something when they started planning the event, but they found out just what the interest level was from the community when it sold out in 40 minutes back in September when the tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

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.

They wanted to celebrate and show off Campbell River, as well as give back to the community, so what better way than to invite a bunch of brewers and beer lovers to town for a festival and have the proceeds go to the Campbell River Community Foundation?

For the first ever NICBF, they wanted to start out small and simple: a few hours of mingling in the gym of the Community Centre, with a few Island-based breweries handing out some samples. It quickly became much more than that as the momentum built during planning sessions and breweries started hopping on board.

“It kind of exploded over and above what the idea was,” Sarah says. “It was only going to be one afternoon and maybe eventually turn into a weekend thing, but it turned out to be a weekend thing this year, too, with the Brewmaster’s Dinner at Session and the After Party at Beachfire and all the other fun we had.”

RELATED: Campbell River to host first North Island Craft Beer Festival

In fact, they admit that because they were being so conservative in their planning, wanting to keep it from getting out of hand on their first crack at it, they probably could have had more tickets available.

“I think we’ll make it a little bigger next year, but not a lot,” Sarah says. “We got a lot of comments from people who had been to beer festivals before that they really liked that they didn’t have to stand in lines all afternoon, but it’s a big gym and we didn’t know until we were actually setting it up on Saturday morning how much extra space there would be.”

“The brewers were telling us there could have easily been 50 or 100 more people in there without everyone being elbow to elbow and held up in line-ups,” Kyle agrees. “So next year there will definitely be more tickets available.”

That’s right. Last weekend’s event was officially the first annual NICBF. And they’re excited to get down to planning for the second annual event – once they get some sleep.

“It was a lot of work, for sure, but a lot of that is because it was the first one,” Sarah says. “A lot of the work we did this past year we don’t have to do now. Now we can focus on the little tweaks rather than spending so much time picking out the little glasses we’re going to use or finding cutlery that was the right size. I haven’t spent as much time thinking about plastic spoons in my entire life as I did in the last few months.”

But for now, they have to get down to accounting and figure out how much money they get to give to the Community Foundation, which is what they are most proud of accomplishing.

“The community was so generous in what they donated for auction at the event and people were paying more than things were actually worth because they knew it was for a good cause, which was amazing to see,” Kyle says.

“The coat-check was ‘by donation’ and there were 20s and 50s in there,” Sarah says. “It was unbelievable.”

While they don’t yet know exactly how large the cheque will be that they present to the Community Foundation, they know it will be for more than they were hoping.

“We were aiming for $5,000 and we think it’ll be somewhere around three times that,” Kyle says, “so it will have been totally worth all the time we put in. I liken it to making Christmas dinner. You spend all day making it and it only takes a half hour to eat, but it’s all worth it. I’m excited to write that cheque.”

Follow along as they plan for next year’s event and be in the know when tickets go on sale by following them on Instagram (@northislandcraftbeerfest) and Facebook (@nicbf).



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local liquor store raising funds for food bank

On May 30, a portion of sales at JAK’s Beer Wine & Spirits will be donated to the food bank

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

City of Campbell River re-opening most park amenities and outdoor washrooms

Splash park, playgrounds, sports fields, outdoor volleyball courts, indoor facilities not yet

First Nation’s guardians ‘take matters into their own hands’ and organize environmental clean-up

Mamalilikulla guardians step up to clear abandoned boats after no response from natural resource officers

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read