Craft beer festival brews up good times in Dogwood Park

Photo by Ben Craven

Dogwood Park played host to Blues and Brews, Cookeville’s first Craft Beer Festival, last Saturday. The event showcased over 50 different craft beers from brewing companies across the country, as well as several home brewing groups from around Tennessee and live music from Carissia and Company and Jonell Mosser.

Blues and Brews started seven years ago as a fundraiser for WCTE, Cookeville’s Public Broadcasting Service station, and has been held in locations such as Southern Hills Golf and Country Club, the Cookeville Golf Club and the Leslie Town Center. However, after hitting the maximum capacity at these previous venues and the interest for attending still rising, the event needed to be moved to a more fitting location.

“With the increase in popularity among a younger demographic for Craft Beer Festivals, we felt that the event had matured to a point to grow the event,” said Becky Magura, CEO of WCTE. “The event was designed to partner with the city and University to help build a diverse group that enjoys Craft Beer.”

The Calfkiller Brewing Company, a popular legal brewing company based in Sparta since 2010, has been showcasing their many craft beers at Blues and Brews for the past five years.

“The layout was different the last four years, so this is the first year for a full-on beer festival atmosphere,” said Dave Sergio, one of the two brothers that started the company. “We enjoyed it very much. It is nice to get out in front of the people of our community and show them what we do.”

Hosting Blues and Brews in a completely new outdoor location did not come without its issues. The event grew exponentially this year in both size and attendance.

“It was unchartered territory for us as a station and for the community,” said Jodie Pitts, the assistant event coordinator. “We had to think about all the logistics of the event while trying to utilize the venue to the fullest of its capabilities. We also had to secure a committee and several volunteers from the community.”

Dogwood Park ended up being a great place for the event, with ample space for the breweries and all the patrons in attendance.

The many breweries in attendance were not the only highlight of Blues and Brews. Many small groups of home brewers came out to showcase their creations, and to educate the public about the near endless possibilities of making beer in your own home. Local home brewer Jim Patten was an integral part of organizing the home brewers at the event.

“She [Magura] knew that I and a lot of other people in the area brew, so it was a great opportunity to expose the art of home brewing to the general public,” said Patten.

Some of the home brewing groups included Caney Fork Brew Works and the Backwoods Carboys out of Tullahoma.

Blues and Brews ran from noon until 5 p.m. Saturday and was fairly packed the entire time. The weather managed to stay clear, and the event seemed to go without a hitch.

“All in all, our planning paid off and we were very pleased with the flow of the event and how well everything came together,” said Pitts. “We hope the festival will continue to grow and be something the community can enjoy, while continuing to raise funding for our programming here at WCTE.”