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Beer festival set to grow again with two-day plaza event

Guests will be able to buy weekend-long pass to check out all breweries
Sunny Suds Beer Festival organizers look to expand the main event over Saturday and Sunday at the third annual Whistler Village Beer Festival. Hoto Courtesy Gibbons Festivals & Events Co.

The homegrown Whistler Village Beer Festival is doubling in size, a testament to its success and to the faith its organizers have in making it bigger and bolder.

Heading into its third year, after back-to-back successes, this year's main event will stretch over Saturday and Sunday afternoons at Whistler Olympic Plaza, doubling hosting capacity (3,500 per day) and the number of breweries (40 per day) on display.

There will be weekend passes for those who would like to attend both days, as well as several events stretching from Sept. 16-20.

"We're just restricted with the site really," explained organizer Liam Peyton with Gibbons Festivals & Events Co., of the rationale for growing over two days at the village site. "We can't put more people in."

But spreading them out over two days solves the problem of the festival's growing success, creating more space and opportunity to activate the site with lawn games, furniture and engagement.

It also entices guests to stay longer, extending their time in Whistler over multiple days as opposed to one day.

Organizers plan to slot the breweries strategically over the two days, so that each day will feature popular brands.

This year the beer festival's educational and culinary programs will stretch over a five-day period.

Organizers are leveraging the $20,000 municipal Festivals, Events & Animation (FE&A) investment to create something similar to a TED talk.

It will include a discussion between some of the founders of the American craft beer revolution and the pioneers of B.C. beer.

On March 31, council approved a Special Occasion License for Saturday Sept. 19 and Sunday Sept. 20.

Liquor service will be from noon to 5:30 p.m. on both days. The site will hold a maximum capacity of 3,700 people (200 will be event staff).

The beer festival falls at a later date in September this year, pushed back by the later Labour Day weekend, which is followed by the GranFondo weekend.

"We're a week later so we face the weather," admitted Peyton.

The team is working on some creative solutions to deal with any potential weather issues, such as custom ponchos that would be included in the ticket price.