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

PHOTOS: Campbell River Storm fall to down-Island rival Victoria Cougars

Cougars win 6-2 and continue to lead the VIJHL as playoffs approach

Five fun things to do on Family Day in Campbell River

Outside or inside, we’ve got you covered with ideas for both

Campbell River City Council to look at more protection measures for great blue herons

Initial recommendation report came back with a few options, which will now be fleshed out

Campbell River Midget Tyees claim semi-final victory in overtime over Peninsula Eagles

The Campbell River Midget Tyees won their semi-final playoff game at Rod… Continue reading

Grieg Seafood says new $40 million wellboat will help battle issues with sea life

‘State-of-the-art removal treatments for sea lice’

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citzensip, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

Most Read