Day in the Life: A Beer Festival Planner

Patrick Chondon1

Day in the Life: A Beer Festival Planner

Being the Marketing Coordinator for BrewHa is a tonne of work… And I love it. From April to August, a fair portion of my free time becomes BrewHa time. However, this keg-sized workload isn’t without its perks. As a beer lover, I get to help create something that I’m passionate about. But best of all, come festival weekend my work is all wrapped up. That means that aside from Day 1 set-up, I can kick back and enjoy the festival. So I have a unique perspective on the festival that our team has worked so hard to build. I get to see it as both an organizer and as an attendee. 

Here’s my day in the life as a beer festival planner.  

7AM Friday morning - My alarm sounds and it snaps me out of a deep sleep. I can’t remember what I was dreaming about because I immediately focus in on what day it is. It’s BrewHa day. It’s year three of the festival and our biggest one yet. The last task on the marketing to-do list was completed yesterday but there is still a tonne of things to get setup on-site…I hit the snooze button. 

9:10AM - I arrive at Prince Arthur’s Landing Festival Area. The stage signage is being hung, the parameter fence posts are being hammered into the ground and a National rental truck is being unloaded in the middle of the grounds by fellow team members, Tom and Kate. I walk up to greet them, blaming the cask of Tim Horton’s in my hand as the reason for my tardiness. I tell no one of the snooze button. We start to dig into a large duffle containing the information/merch tent - BrewHa’s central hub. 

Time to get to work. 

10AM - Jon Hendel, Brewha’s co-chair and MVP has finished his talks with on-site suppliers and joins us just as we finish pitching the BrewHa tent. He comments on my tight pants and I want to clap back about his plaid shorts and oxford shoe combo but I finish tying off the tent and say nothing. This is his day. 

1 tent down. A lot more to go. Just like camping… Only with 4000+ campers.

10:30AM - A big ERB freezer transport truck pulls onto the scene. The beer is here! And that means so is Kerry Berlinquette, the other co-chair and beloved hype queen of the BrewHa family. In tow is her boyfriend and our Logistics Coordinator, Beefcake Kevin. 

Breweries and food vendors start arriving to set up, the tents are going up at a speedy rate and the sun is shining. It seems that in our third year we have become seasoned veterans who have prepared for everything.

1PM - I walk into Home Depot to pick up a few things we forgot.

1:30PM - Where are the f@#$ing zip ties? I can never find anything in this stupid store.

2PM - I return to Prince Arthur’s Landing with my zip ties, some velcro and some other knick-knacks. This place is really starting to look like a festival. It just needs a little colour… I quickly get to work hanging tent signage. 

3PM - A nice girl from Collective Arts Brewing Co. asks me where their booth belongs. I point to the guy wearing the goofy shorts and oxfords and say “Jon has the site plan and can direct you to your BrewHa home.” 

Debrief note: Print more than one site plan next year.

4PM - I notice an empty corner beside the stage and quickly ask Jon why our large digital screen hasn’t arrived yet. Jon assures me that he’ll email the large digital screen guy and then asks me for the time. I tell him it’s 4:00PM. He shouts a bad word and runs off. 

4:05PM - The large digital screen arrives.

5PM - We finish with last minute tidying just as the first attendees begin to form a line at the entry gate. I change out of my Volunbeering Staff t-shirt, put on my Brewtiful quarter-sleeve and grab my tasting glass. 

It’s show-time.


7:30PM - We’re halfway through. Jon is running around like a madman. He looks sweaty. Kerry and Kevin are rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of Thunder Bay. Tom (Volunteer Coordinator) is instructing his legion of amazing volunteers via his walkie-talkie. Franco (Vendor Coordinator) is going over the fabric softness of our BrewHa merch with an interested attendee. Emily (Music Coordinator) is speaking with the sound guy as the live music fills the air. I love these guys. All of them are extremely hard working. But with over 88 beers available this year, I have the hardest task ahead.

I head over to the Beau’s tent. 

9:30PM - Session 1 is over and security is guiding traffic away from the grounds and towards the lively Thunder Bay downtown. I join the team outside the gate by the National rental truck. They all look exhausted for some reason. I try to spark a conversation on just how easy it is to organize a beer festival. They all scowl at me. 

Cheer up guys. Sessions 2 and 3 are tomorrow and there are plenty more beers to try.

11PM Saturday Night -
The organizing committee, volunteers and few brewers grab some picnic tables, turn on the Bluetooth speaker and grab some top-shelf beers to toast to another successful year. I crack my Saturday Night by Stack Brewing and look over the empty festival area. It hits me every year. Months of hard work, finally culminating in a whirlwind of a festival and it’s over in a blink of an eye. I turn to offer each team member a friendly "cheers". That’s a wrap on BrewHa Round 3 …

Time to start planning Round 4.

From left to right: Jon Hendel (Co-Chair), Emily Hayden (Music), Ryan Novak (Marketing), "Beefcake" Kevin Anderson (Logistics), Kerry Berlinquette (Co-Chair), Franco Veneruzzo (Vendors/Merch), Tom Lupinski (Volunteers). 

Ryan Novak is Marketing Chair at BrewHa Craft Beer Festival
First two photos via Chondon Photography. Last photo via Ryan Novak. 



Share a Comment