POTSDAM - The weather was hot but the beer was cold at the second annual Raquette River Craft Beer and Wine Fest, held Friday and Saturday at Fall Island Park.
The festival began as a way of introducing more north country residents to craft beer, held in conjunction with Potsdams SummerFest.
We realized there was a lot going on in the craft beer industry that people might like to know about, said festival founder Larry C. Reece.
Admission to the festival was $7, or attendees could purchase packages that included tickets tradable for beer and wine samples for $17-$54.
I think its awesome, its an awesome idea, said attendee Tim A. Ronan, Malone. Its a great location.
Beer could be tapped directly from the side of a tractor trailer, packed with bottles and barrels. Brews from all over the United States and Europe were on tap. The still-small local craft brewing scene was represented by the St. Lawrence County Brewing Company, which was offering free samples of four of its beers.
The festival marked one of the companys first public outings. By January they will be located in their new brewery, currently under construction in Canton.
Were really looking to bring craft beer to the whole north country area, starting with St. Lawrence County, said company Brewmaster Stephanie M. Russo.
Their wares included a maple porter made with local maple syrup. The plan is to eventually brew some beers with local hops, Ms. Russo said.
While the over 100 varieties of beer and cider were the focus of the festival, this year saw several additions. Local bands played throughout the event, and over 60 brands of wine were available to try.
Mr. Reeces daughter, Audrey Reece-Roberts, said the wine was there to attract a more mixed audience.
We want to draw the ladies, she said.
It worked. According to Mrs. Reece-Roberts, the wine area was busier than the beer truck for much of the day.
Its a good selection of beer, and great music too, said New Jersey resident Patrick S. McFadden, who was visiting Potsdam for Clarkson Universitys alumni weekend.
Last years festival drew about 300 people, and this year surpassed that number by the middle of the second day, according to Mr. Reece. This is still a fairly small turnout, Large craft beer festivals draw thousands, but have not had much presence in the North Country until now.
This is not a profit-making enterprise, he said.
Still, if the event becomes popular enough it may move to a different weekend in the future, no longer associated with Potsdams SummerFest.
Theres been a lot of talk about making its own event, Mr. Reece said, adding that it would take about 600 attendees to make the switch.
The ideal is to have at least 1,000 people,