Craft beer festival set for Saturday in Escanaba

ESCANABA — This Memorial Day weekend, residents and visitors alike will have an opportunity to enjoy “A Taste of the North,” a new craft beer, wine and food festival presented by the Wells Lions Club. The festival will take place at the Ruth Butler Building at the U.P. State Fairgrounds Saturday.

Steve Lieburn, a member of the Wells Lions Club and the event coordinator for A Taste of the North, said the idea for the festival came from a desire to find a new fundraiser for the club.

“Our main source of revenue has been our food trailer,” he said. The club’s members had become interested in finding a less labor-intensive way to raise funds in addition to the trailer; seeing the popularity of beer festivals in the region, they decided to host one themselves.

During the process of planning A Taste of the North, Lieburn said the club sought input from Upper Hand Brewery and local homebrew club Bay de Noc Brewers.

“They gave us a lot of advice and excellent suggestions along the way,” he said.

A total of 14 breweries and more than 50 beers will be represented at A Taste of the North. Breweries from the Upper Peninsula that will have a presence at the festival include Blackrocks Brewery, Keweenaw Brewing Company, Ore Dock Brewing Co., and Upper Hand Brewery. Beers from Axle Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery, Cheboygan Brewing Company, Dark Horse Brewing Company, Founders Brewing Company, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Latitude 42 Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing, Right Brain Brewery, and Short’s Brewing Company will also be available at the event.

Wineries participating in A Taste of the North will include Chateau Grand Traverse, Falling Waters Winery, Forgotten Fire Winery, Leigh’s Garden Winery, Northern Sun Winery and Threefold Vine Winery. Attendees will receive 15 tickets for beer and wine samples, along with a 16 ounce pilsner glass.

Several food vendors — including Andy’s Diner, Bobaloon’s, Dobber’s Pasties, Hereford and Hops, and Yooper Nuts — will be present at the festival, as well. Live music will be performed by Iron Mountain-based classic rock band Oz.

Other activities that will take place during the festival include yard games, a putting contest, hay wagon rides and a bonfire. Prizes of $500 will be offered for attendees’ favorite beverage, food and costume.

The Lions Club decided to hold A Taste of the North on Memorial Day weekend due to the relative lack of events scheduled to take place in the area at this time. Lieburn also noted that the club wanted to avoid getting in the way of UPtoberfest, which is held each fall in support of the United Way of Delta County.

“We didn’t want to crimp their style or compete with them,” he said.

Funds raised through A Taste of the North will also go toward good causes. In addition to supporting Lions Club programs such as Project Kidsight and scholarship funds, the Wells Lions Club supports a wide variety of local organizations each year.

“Basically, anything we make, we give away,” Lieburn said.

A Taste of the North will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are available for $35 at the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, Hereford and Hops, WYKX, Bald Eagle Harley-Davidson in Marquette and online at wellslionsclub.brownpapertickets.com. Those attending the festival must be 21 or older.