SACKETS HARBOR — What started out years ago as a block party in a parking lot in Watertown has turned into something greater; and with that comes the need for a larger space. This year, the much anticipated Brew York Festival will make its return, after a year’s hiatus due to COVID, in a new location: the polo fields in Madison Barracks.
The festival has had a few names over the years, starting out as the Black River Block Party, then the Black River Brew and Music Fest, and then finally the Brew York Festival. Organizers Patrick G. Robbins and Jason Price both have ties to the area, so moving the festival to Sackets is a sort of homecoming for the two, a native of Sackets and executive chef at Goodfellos, respectively.
The event, which will take place Saturday, Sept. 11, will feature breweries, wineries and distilleries on site, many of which are local, with free tastings from 4 to 6 p.m. included with the purchase of admission plus tasting tickets for $27. Those who do not wish to partake in the tastings can purchase general admission tickets for $17, and those who wish to live like VIPs for the day can purchase VIP tickets for $64 to include an exclusive, covered viewing area, libations & light food all day, meet and greets with artists and access to a cigar bar and NNYPhotobooths. For the VIP area, libations and snacks will be provided throughout the event courtesy of Jeremy Briggs Motivated Reality and B&T Construction and Masonry.
“We try to cater to a real cross demo because not only do we have craft breweries, but we have wineries and distilleries that come and then we cater to the bigger American beer markets, and then even the music we try to cross genres to kind of appeal to a wide demographic of fans,” Mr. Robbins said. “So we’re not just pigeon holed with just rock or just Americana, we always try to bring bands in that kind of appeal to a wider range audience, that’s kind of been our M.O. all along.”
Live music will be available all day to include national, regional, and local acts. Local acts Bread and Circuses, The NorthmeN and Against What’s Best will take the stage as well as regional acts like Folkfaces, Vaporeyes, Hartley’s Encore and Our Common Roots, and the headliner for the evening: national act Harrison B, who has been with the festival since its inception, but has not headlined until now. According to Mr. Robbins, Harrison B. has garnered somewhat of a cult following around this area over the years.
This year, knowing musicians have not been able to perform much, or at all, since COVID struck, the eight bands will be given longer set times, giving them a forum to get back out on stage and play to the masses. There will be approximately 10-minute-long breaks in between sets.
The one-day festival will open its gates at 1 p.m. and music will start around 1:30 p.m. The event will wrap up at approximately 9:30 p.m., according to Mr. Robbins. Set times for the participating bands will be released in the coming days on the event’s Facebook page: http://wdt.me/FacebookBrew.
“I think a lot of the population is just ready to go out and have an event in the community that they can go out, see each other, and have fun,” Mr. Robbins said. “So far, the initial response has been overwhelmingly positive. Even our presale ticket sales are on par with what we did in 2019, so I think there’s just a vibe and a want for people to get out and just attend events in person.”
Mr. Robbins said the event will adhere to health and safety protocols to make sure that everyone can experience the festival in a safe environment. Donations, as well as a portion of the proceeds, will benefit first responders in the area.
Offering something for everyone, there will be a game zone with cornhole boards set up and maybe even a mini cornhole tournament the day of the event, Mr. Robbins said. ATMs will be on-site for those in need of cash, and there will also be facepainting for younger attendees.
Ticket holders will receive wristbands to allow for them to easily come and go through the day as they please. Libations will be for sale before, during, and after the 4 to 6 p.m. tastings and food trucks will also be on-site.
Sponsors and supporters for the event include the 1812 Brewery, Bottle Caps and Arsenal Wine and Liquor, Davidson Auto Group, Pier Sound and Sata, Jeremy Briggs Motivated Realty, Northern Glass, Bob Johnson Auto Group, Brownell Abstract and Watertown Garden Center. Media partners include ABC 50, Tunes 92.5, 94 Rock and The Border 106.7.
“I feel like they found value in being with us for the last five years, and their love of food and music and craft offering has kind of been the cornerstone of our success; in turn, it drives us to do better every year,” Mr. Robbins said. “We’re just kind of excited about the picturesque shoreline as a backdrop to our event in the Madison Barracks.”
For tickets, those interested can go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/.../brew-york-festival-2021 or stop into Garland City Beer Works or Bottle Caps Beverage Center to purchase hard copies.