Last Monday Eli Cannon’s held its 6th annual beerfest to a crowd that was the biggest one yet! This fest has been growing slowly but surely over its lifetime, and it was no different this year. Featuring five food trucks, over 70 different breweries, and 600 of the happiest, friendliest fest-goers you’ve ever seen, Eli Cannon’s has once again proved why their fest is the one that easily makes my top three (if not top one) “must go” list every single year.
|The crowds at the entrance: right next to the food trucks and the CT beer tent! Courtesy: CT Now.|
New this year, Eli Cannon’s hosted all the CT breweries in one huge tent at the entrance to the fest itself. When you walked in, you got to experience 20+ CT breweries, effectively making CT beer the star of this fest. More than just a very cool decision to push CT beer the most, this move also was a wise one in terms of crowd control; with everyone grouping at the front, it made the much larger crowd than last year feel very spaced out. That being said, you still ended up shoulder to shoulder with people the entire time, but then again this is the sort of vibe that is familiar and expected at Eli Cannon’s.
|An aerial shot of the crowd. Courtesy: CT Now.|
As with every year, Eli Cannon’s held this fest to promote a local charity. This year’s charity was the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing & Homelessness. The Coalition exists to eradicate homelessness in the Middlesex area by 2018. They promote long term and sustainable approaches to house people, as opposed to trying to manage each case of homelessness when they occur. Through the beerfest, Eli Cannon’s raised a remarkable $8335.57 for this very worthy charity, which is around quadruple times the donation from last year!
|The crowds wrapped around the entire facility! Courtesy: CT Now.|
This increase in donations was due to the extraordinary amounts of people that showed up. All 600 tickets were sold out for the event, a full 200 more than last year! Despite the higher amount of people, there was more general polish and organization to the event, as could even been seen with a ton more volunteers wearing the Eli’s shirts, helping people out and ensuring that the fest ran smoothly. I spoke with Rocco LaMonica (the bar manager at Eli’s and the man almost wholly responsible for this event) and he said that the Eli’s staff really grows more confident every year. This confidence includes the great degree of trust that’s placed in the skill of the Eli Cannon’s staff, and the helpfulness of the community. Rocco emphasized that the staff went above and beyond, with almost the whole staff roster working the whole day on Monday (the day they all usually have off)! To top it off, the community really embraced this event, and that proves to be a huge help as well. The Middlesex PD and other town departments worked with Eli’s for months in advance, and always sought to make sure that this event would go off in a big, fun, and safe way.
|Only a small portion of the many volunteers on hand for the fest. Courtesy: CT Now.|
Since the fest is getting so big, I asked where they could go next. That question, Rocco told me, was something of a conundrum. They could move to a different venue, but that would effectively loose the charm and vibe that holding the beerfest at Eli Cannon’s gives off! This beerfest attracts not just beer fans, but a ton of repeat customers and Eli Cannon’s fans. This makes the fest crowd very unique: it’s almost more like a feeling of a family reunion, rather than a bunch of random people you don’t know drinking under a tent. That is to say, most people at the beerfest are connected to Eli’s, so you get a crowd that’s laid back, friendly, and eager to share their day with 600 other people, many of whom they may actually know! Rocco (and Eli Cannon’s) enjoys this closeness to his customers and stressed that they will most likely keep the fest where it is to preserve this uniqueness.
Despite having very successfully pulled off this massive beerfest, Rocco and the Eli’s crew aren’t ones to rest on their laurels. Rocco says that in the future he would like to maybe try doing more “fest” inspired events, such as maybe a limited release fest where all the beer on is a very limited run from each brewery present. Whatever Eli’s is going to do next, you can bet that it will be well thought out, big, and fun as hell. All pictures above are courtesy of CT Now, visit them to see over a hundred pictures from the event! Don’t forget to add Eli Cannon’s on Facebook to see what they’re up to next, and then follow me here on Blogger, and on Twitter and Facebook for more beer events, news, and ramblings!