A look back at the inaugural Queen City Brewers Festival by founder Nils Weldy
Posted on 10 Feb 2012 by Nils Weldy
The first-ever Queen City Brewers Festival (@QCBrewFest) hasn’t officially ended. Though the actual event date, February 4, 2012, is now in the rearview mirror, there’s the follow-up, survey dissemination, settlement, equipment return, and yes, even a bit of the 2013 festival pre-promotion that keeps this event in constant motion.
It took a little over 20 months to assemble nine Charlotte-area breweries, 22 sponsors, two food vendors, 6 artists, two dozen volunteers, the venue and the nonprofit host. The organization process requires countless hours of preparation all for one day of execution. But just as the actual breweries will tell you, it’s not about getting rich; it’s about a labor of love. My motivation was to find a way to become professionally involved with the local brewery culture. I’m not a home brewer (yet) and I don’t sell or distribute beer. I took an events-based background from positions with the Boston Bruins, Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats to create QCBF. The result has far-exceeded expectations and has made Charlotte feel more like home than ever before.
I’ve moved to Charlotte twice: once in July 2007, then again in October 2010. The first tour was grueling, due in part to a challenging work environment, which prompted the move back to New England. But unforeseen circumstances brought me and my family back to Charlotte. The second tour has been tremendously enjoyable; the brewery renaissance Charlotte’s undergoing has made the QC feel more a like the great beer cities I’ve lived in like Burlington, VT and Boston, MA, and it’s allowed me to fulfill one of my great passions — organizing a craft beer festival.
My mindset used to be that Charlotte was a springboard to a new opportunity in another city. It took an idea, a whole lot of support and patience from my wife, several selfless people from the craft beer community and the right market conditions for QCBF to come to fruition. With the first-ever festival organized (and very well-received), we (wife included) can confidently say that this is the start of a tradition and one that perhaps I’ll pass on to my two boys someday – they are, after all, Charlotteans and if they’re anything like me, they’ll love supporting local craft beer too.