Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival
Adding to the ever-growing list of annual Hot Springs events is the Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival, which is ready to start the beer flowing for a third time on May 21 at Hot Springs Convention Center.
Attendance was “up quite a bit” last year with about 1,200 people attending, said Rob Pratt, event coordinator and Beer Baron, and the number of beer exhibitors is expanding each year, as well. The first event in 2014 was to have been held at Hill Wheatley Plaza, but the weather forecast called for “tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes,” Pratt said, laughing.
The very accommodating convention center staff jumped in and they were quickly able to move the event there and “it proved itself to be the place to be.” The doom and gloom weather forecasters were found to be crying wolf with weather sunny and in the 90s, but Pratt said everyone was comfortable in the air conditioning at the center. “It worked out so well we decided to just keep it there.”
With about 50 vendors the first year, 85 last year and 93 beer vendors lined up this year, “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Pratt said. The festival is a fundraising event organized and presented by Arkansas Event Management, with profits going to support cultural and community activities in Hot Springs.
The vendors come from all over Arkansas and the United States, and even other countries. “We tried to get as many as we could from Arkansas. We tried to entice them, but there were some who just felt this wasn't their market,” Pratt said, noting they have exhibitors coming “from New York to California to Florida” and everywhere in between.