Estimated 1,200 people enjoy second Brew & ‘Que
By Norm Cannada
SENECA — A crowd estimated at more than 1,200 gathered for an evening of barbecue, craft beer, music and fun Sunday during the second annual Labor Day Brew & ‘Que event at Gignilliat Field in Seneca.
Officials said Monday about 1,000 adult tickets were sold for the event — up from 850 for the inaugural event last year. An estimated 125 children participated in activities and ate pizza in the children’s area, led by a group from Walhalla Power Tumbling. There were also about 75 volunteers working in various areas during the course of the event. A city official estimated the crowd at more than 1,200.
“It was a lot bigger crowd this year — it was fun with families enjoying themselves, and the kids had a lot to do,” Seneca Mayor Dan Alexander said. “There was a great turnout, great music — just a great event this year. I’m looking forward to next year. It’s going to get bigger and better.”
Alexander said the festival gives local residents an opportunity to enjoy holiday fun without having to travel out of the area.
“It’s a community event, a family event and people can look forward to it every year,” he said. “It allows people to stay at home and be in the community and have something to do during the holiday. I think with it being on Sunday, and then you’ve got Monday off, it just makes it easier on people, too.”
Hal Welch, general manager of The Journal, which co-sponsored Brew & ‘Que with the city of Seneca, said he was “really proud of the turnout.”
“We thought it went great, especially since this was just our second year,” Welch said. “We’re still learning — we’ll be making a few more adjustments to next year. We’ve got to get people through the lines faster. I also think we’ll start later next year to avoid the heat.
“It was hot — too hot — so I really thank everyone for coming out and supporting the event.”
Seven different barbecue teams provided 1,500-2,000 samples each to festival participants who, in turn, voted for their favorite cooks. Iron Pig took top honors for the second year in a row, taking home the $1,000 first prize, while J.D. Hogg’s finished second and received $500.
A total of 15 breweries from throughout South Carolina provided more than 40 different craft beers for the event.
“The turnout was amazing — I was completely in awe of Seneca’s support of an event like that,” said Matt Jordan, managing partner of Brews on the Alley in Seneca and coordinator for the brewers who participated in the event. “It was overwhelming … Just proud of being part of that community. It was awesome.”
Some beer tents did run out of beer for a time, but more beer was transported to the site.
“Going back and getting more beer was what we were hoping to avoid this year — we thought we had it figured out,” Jordan said. “But our Seneca family definitely enjoys good beer.”
City of Seneca events coordinator Riley Johnson called Sunday’s Brew & ‘Que event a “win-win for everybody.”
“I thought it went great. I think the bands were good, I think the overall atmosphere was great and it seemed like there were a lot of friendly smiles,” he said. “I think it has room to grow.”
Jordan agreed that the event has potential for growth.
“I had several of our brewers who were like, man, with this venue, they could see us hitting 2,000 at some point,” he said. “Most of the brewers were highly impressed, and I’ve had several breweries already commit to next year.”
Welch offered his thanks to all involved.
“We want to thank the city of Seneca, Mayor Alexander and the council. (Seneca Rec director) Rick Lacey and his team were great all week,” Welch said. “My staff here at The Journal and the volunteers from the Golden Corner Food Pantry were fantastic. And last, but not least, Matt (Jordan) and his team at Brews on the Alley did a great job on the beer. We couldn’t have done this without everyone.”
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