UPtoberfest efforts help community

ESCANABA — Craft beer and wine festival UPtoberfest will return to Escanaba on Saturday, Oct. 13. Bay de Noc Brewers President Ben Harris spoke about the process of preparing for this year’s UPtoberfest, which is now sold out.

Harris said his club’s efforts to get ready for UPtoberfest begin in late summer each year.

“We usually start planning right around the end of August,” he said. At this time, the club determines where the event will take place and if any major changes will be made to the event.

This year, UPtoberfest will be moving from Escanaba’s municipal dock to a site near the bandshell at Ludington Park. Harris said this move will help the event avoid weather-related problems.

“Last year, we had a little issue with the wind down in the previous location,” he said.

After these decisions were made for 2018’s UPtoberfest, efforts to prepare for the event from a legal standpoint started.

“The primary steps are to procure insurance for the event, to get all of our approvals from the city, and then to get approvals from the state for a liquor license,” Harris said. The majority of this work took place in September.

Work on getting UPtoberfest’s new site ready to host the 1,000 people that will attend this year’s event began earlier this week.

“We start setting up for the event … about Tuesday of the week before,” Harris said. This work includes setting up tents, having catering equipment put into place, and putting up fencing and signage.

According to Harris, Stenberg Bros. Inc. will be responsible for setting up tents, tables, and chairs for UPtoberfest.

“They do a lot of the heavy lifting,” he said.

Other preparatory work for UPtoberfest will be done by volunteers with Bay de Noc Brewers and the United Way of Delta County.

“Over the course of the week, we have about 20 volunteers at various stages of the set-up process,” Harris said.

Volunteers will also play an important role once UPtoberfest begins.

“They do most of the ticket-taking and wristbands and checking IDs,” Harris said, noting these volunteers will also ensure that beverages are in place during UPtoberfest.

A total of 14 breweries and four wineries are expected to be in attendance at UPtoberfest this year, Harris said. Breweries that will be represented at the event for the first time in 2018 include barrel + beam of Marquette, Superior State Brewing of Stephenson, and Lansing Brewing Company of Lansing. Additionally, Leigh’s Garden Winery will have a presence at UPtoberfest for the first time in years in 2018.

Food preparation and serving for the event will be handled by the staff of Bobaloon’s Cafe.

“Mark [Ammel] from Bobaloon’s has his own very large crew,” Harris said.

Proceeds from this year’s UPtoberfest will once again go towards the United Way of Delta County.

“We should be able to yield a donation of $10,000 to the United Way,” Harris said. He added that Bay de Noc Brewers has been earmarking some UPtoberfest funds for other causes in the area over the past few years. This year, these funds will go towards the Delta County Child Advocacy Center.

Harris said the clean-up process for UPtoberfest will take place the day after the event.

“Clean-up is a Sunday-morning project that is handled by Stenberg and the Bay de Noc Brewers volunteers,” he said, noting that this process usually takes about half a day to complete.

For more information on UPtoberfest, visit uptoberfest.org or find the event on Facebook.