The 2015 Springfield Jaycees Beerfest designed by Colby Jennings.

While Gemma has been working on SO Magazine I’ve been organizing the 2015 Springfield Jaycees Beerfest.

Craft beer is booming in the US; both micro and regional brewers are having to meet demand for great beer.

One of our key objectives for the Beerfest was to feature as many local breweries as possible. Timotheus Brothers Brewery is new to Springfield and has already gained popularity. Hand of Fate Brewing Company from Petersburg, Illinois is about to open its brewery – we even headed down to the Petersburg Harvest Festival at the weekend to take in an early sampling. Gemma’s favorite was their milk chocolate stout … go figure!  Makraft Brewing Co. from Centralia, Illinois is also going to be making its first appearance at Beerfest. Working with the local breweries has been particularly rewarding.

We’ve also got samples on offer that we know are going to be popular having spent the past months sourcing beers, wines and spirits from across the country. I’m particularly excited about Forbidden Root, Chicago's first botanic brewery. Kentucky Ale is another at the top of my list; its beers are aged in decanted Kentucky bourbon barrels.  Don’t worry, we’ve got their bourbon too.  In fact, we have over 40 brewers and around 140 beers at the festival.

A good media partner can go a long way in helping create a successful event. We’re working with the Illinois Times because its team, not only understands beer, but also has recently diversified its services by introducing an online ticketing service operated locally, which we’re using for Beerfest. 

Finding the right location for a beerfestival can be a challenge, but we decided to stick with last year’s venue as it gives us a chance to grow. The Exposition Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds offers plenty of covered space and parking. 

For every event we are involved in we want to create a wow factor. At this year’s Beerfest we’re bringing the outdoors indoors with a beer garden inside the Expo Building, designed by Pleasant Nursery. We also have Superior Sound Entertainment’s DJ and master of ceremony services and live music from Brooke Thomas and Mark Burnett.

A good beerfest also needs awards and this year we'll be introducing several. Look out for celebrity guest judges and don’t forget to vote for the People’s Choice award. 

Another aim of the festival is to create a fund for the Springfield Jaycees Capital City Celebration on the 4th of July so we have relied heavily on donations, sponsorship and volunteers. We are lucky enough to have developed a great network of contacts that have committed their support to the event.

The Springfield Jaycees Beerfest takes place on Saturday 24 October tickets are available to purchase online now. 

For more information and updates visit the Springfield Jaycees Beerfest event page .