SKOWHEGAN — For the second straight year, specialty beer, live music and craft goods will flow down Water Street as the Skowhegan Craft Brew Festival takes place Saturday.

The event, which was a huge success in its inaugural year, as more than 800 people filled the downtown, is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Main Street Skowhegan. Last year’s event featured more than 20 Maine craft brewers, including locals such as Bigelow Brewing Co., which brewed a specialty blueberry beer for the event.

This year’s event runs from 3 to 7 p.m. General admission tickets are available online for $40 and at the entrance to the event for $45. Beverage samples are unlimited. Designated driver tickets cost $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event. No alcoholic drinks will be served to a designated driver. The event is open only to people who are at least 21 years old.

Kristina Cannon, the organization’s executive director, said more than 1,000 people are expected to show up at Saturday’s event, which features 26 Maine breweries. She said about 600 tickets already have been sold in advance, with people coming from as far as Canada and other parts of New England. Last year, people from as far away as Virginia came to sample the beers available.

While one of the festival’s goals is to promote local brewers — which includes producers of hard cider, wine and spirits, in addition to beer — Cannon said the event also showcases the agricultural food hub that Skowhegan has become. Grains from the local grist mill are used by brewers and food producers across the state. A farmers market also will be on hand Saturday.

“We’re excited that this event will help promote Skowhegan as a destination for craft brewing and also local food,” Cannon said.

Participating breweries in the event include 2 Feet Brewing, of Bangor; Lewiston’s Baxter Brewing; the Atlantic Brewing Co., of Bar Harbor; as well as larger Portland-based breweries such as Allagash, Sebago and Shipyard. Attendees will get unlimited pours, but no cans, bottles or growlers will be sold.

Bigelow Brewing Co. in Skowhegan is participating for the second year in a row, and has brewed up a special beer just for the occasion. Colin Hoffman, the assistant brewer, said the company partnered with Noctem Artisans Brasseurs — a craft brewery based in Quebec, to make a one-of-a-kind beer for the festival. Hoffman said it was called La Saison du Labrador, a Belgian farm-style beer brewed with Labrador tea from Canada. He said it was a sweeter beer, with hints of banana and clove. They brewed about 90 gallons for the event.

Amanda Powers, whose parents own the brewery on Bigelow Hill Road, said her parents went on a cross-cultural tour last year and in Quebec met the owners of Noctem Artisans Brasseurs. Out of that meeting, a partnership came about. The Canadian brewers came down two weeks ago to make this beer, she said, and at some point the Bigelow group will go up to Quebec for another partnership.

Powers said last year’s festival was a great experience, and the turnout and support for their brewery were huge.

“There’s a lot of excitement for this year,” she said.

The Saison was kegged on Thursday, but Hoffman said a special blackberry wheat ale had been brewed for the VIP section of the festival, something that will not be offered during the regular hours of the festival. The VIP section, which is sold out, begins an hour earlier and has more offerings.

The food available, all farm-to-table fare, ranges from wood-fired pizza to authentic Filipino food, chicken wings, poutine, burritos and tacos, all with an emphasis on local products.

Cannon said two bands will be playing. The Dave Mello Blues Band will start first, and later in the day the Youngerbloods will play. Cannon said local businesses will raffle off free goods, which will help promote the retailers of Skowhegan.

In addition to all the beer and food offerings, guided tours of Maine Grains at the Somerset Grist Mill and of Skowhegan’s section of the Langlais Art Trail are also available. The Somerset Grist Mill tours, hosted by the organization’s CEO, Amber Lambke, are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The art trail tour, conducted by Wesserunsett Arts Council board member Margi Brown, will be held at 3:30 p.m.

Additional vendors will include the Maine Brew Bus, Home Brewers of Greater Bangor, the Maine Brew Guide, Mainely Pallets, Maine Grains and Main Street Skowhegan.

Maine Street Skowhegan runs the event as a fundraiser and uses the proceeds to help continue revitalizing the downtown area. Cannon said the event showcases all that Skowhegan has to offer and will help the town continue to grow.

“We’re really excited,” she said.

The event itself takes place on Water Street, which will be shut down and fenced off during the festival. Police will direct two-way traffic on Madison Street, and there will be a detour through High Street.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

 

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