At festivals that run all weekend long, Sundays usually see the smallest turnout.
Craft Beer & Winefest of Vancouver organizer Rusty Hoyle tried to change that by offering a slightly different experience on the event’s third day downtown at Esther Short Park.
“What do they like to do on Sundays? What do they like to drink?” he asked. His answer: Beer, Bloody Marys and blues music.
Hoyle’s approach apparently worked. Although the park wasn’t jam packed on Sunday, he said the event had a higher turnout than on Friday. It might have helped that the weather was nicer on Sunday, too.
An estimated 3,500 people attended the festival over the weekend, Hoyle said. As drinks flowed, local blues bands cranked out tunes from the park’s pavilion and guests relaxed in their lawn chairs.
Attendees Amy and David Powell of Vancouver were pleased that they could bring their dogs to the festival. A drink in one hand and a dog leash in the other, the couple walked basset hound Annie and Labrador-mix Jax in the grass as they talked to someone new, Kevin Kloewer, owner of the Garage Bar & Grille in west Vancouver.
Kloewer said he was at the event to network and promote his bar. As Kloewer listened to the blues band BobbyLee Experience, he said he was working to get them to play a gig at the Garage.
“They’re going to call me tomorrow,” he said.
For the Powells, it was their first time at the Craft Beer and Winefest.
“We like it because it’s a chill place to come and hang out with your dogs,” Amy Powell said. “If you don’t know someone, you get to make a friend.”
She added that Esther Short Park has come a long way. Years ago, “when I first moved here,” she said, “we would not come to Esther Short Park. It was scary.”
Now she’s in the area about once a week.
“There’s always something going on. It’s positive,” she said.
Also making new friends on Sunday afternoon were Lynn and Shawn Stoller of Vancouver. They happened upon two guys playing the lawn game cornhole and had to join in. Their opponents were cousins Christian Schaumann and TJ Farrington.
“We’ve never met, but we’ve all played cornhole before,” Lynn Stoller said. “We just saw (the game) sitting here and were like, ‘yes.’ ” The Stollers moved to Vancouver a few years ago from the Seattle area.
“Vancouver’s such a great place,” Shawn Stoller said just before tossing another bean bag through the air. “Everybody’s so friendly.”
The festival, in its fourth year, also put an emphasis on local ingredients. Much of the alcohol was crafted by small, family-owned businesses from the region. The Bloody Marys were made with liquor from Double V Distillery in Battle Ground, said Hoyle, who organized the event with Sherie Szubski.
Vendors, including several food trucks, lined the sidewalks of the park. Vendors poured drinks, sold art or offered up various treats, including olives, garlic and chocolates.
Hoyle said he saw repeat customers on Sunday, and new people visiting from other parts of the country.
“We sold out of vendor spaces this year, and we’re growing,” he said.