SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Idyllic fall weather clearly helped attract people Saturday to the annual Acadia Oktoberfest held at the Smuggler’s Den Campground on Route 102.
But the clear sunny skies did not keep festival attendees out of the beer tent. It was elbow-to-elbow under the big top, as people crowded up to the beer booths to get samples of new or favorite brews.
“This is an awesome turnout,” Luke Bundy of Central Distributors said. “It’s beautiful weather.”
Bundy, a local resident, sells Maine-brewed beers to local retailers and taverns in the Mount Desert Island area, but on Saturday was helping pour samples at the Atlantic Brewing Company booth. He said that the event started in the 1990s as a rather small affair that drew only local brewers and residents. Since then, however, it has grown into an event that is drawing more people from farther away.
“We’re starting to get more and more [people] from off-island,” Bundy said. “That’s what we want. We want it to be an event.”
Jon Hill of Atlantic Brewing Co. noted that there wasn’t much room inside the tent, but didn’t seem fazed by it.
“Maybe it’s a little crowded, but that’s a good problem,” he said.
Tim Gallon, owner and brewer at Black Bear Brewery in Orono, was at the event with his girlfriend Sara York giving samples of his beer to people who gave him tickets they had paid for at the festival entrance. He said he has been busy because he recently expanded his production facility in Orono, but that he wouldn’t want to miss showcasing his beers at Acadia Oktoberfest.
“This one we’ve done for four or five years,” Gallon said.
Though the event seems to draw more people every year regardless of the weather, he credited Saturday’s cool temperatures and clear skies for helping to pull people in.
“We’ve been selling a lot,” Gallon said. “We’re going to be done way to early.”
Bob LaFlamme of Hermon and Kathleen Carter of Arlington, Mass. were at Saturday’s event for the first time. LaFlamme said he wanted to take Carter around Mount Desert Island, and decided to come to the festival after a co-worker recommended it.
“You couldn’t ask for a better day, weather-wise” Carter said.
LaFlamme said he prefers Pilseners and lagers to the darker porters and ales that tend to be popular at autumn beer festivals, but that he and Carter both enjoyed most of the samples they had Saturday.
“Of the ales we tried, most were pretty good,” he said. “There’s a good chance [we’ll return next year].”