Valley Fest aims to showcase area’s passion, creativity

Date: 7/24/2015

SPRINGFIELD – Dan Lanigan admitted if you had told him years ago that Springfield would play host to a craft beer festival, he would have thought you were crazy.

More than a decade ago, Lanagan took a shot at craft beer in Western Massachusetts when he opened the Moan and Dove, a small bar in Amherst catering to the craft beer drinker.

Lanigan’s success of the Moan and Dove, and later The Dirty Truth in Northampton, represent for many a springboard for the public’s appreciation of the industry in Western Massachusetts.

Now the owner of Lord Hobo Brewing Company in Woburn, Lanigan marveled at just how far that interest has grown as city officials, local businesspeople and beer and food aficionados celebrated the coming ValleyFest at a July 16 press conference.

The craft beer and cider festival set for Aug. 29 at Court Square, will feature 51 local, regional and national beer brands with more than 100 varieties available for sampling and five of the city’s premier restaurants – Nadim’s Mediterranean Grill, Plan B Burger Bar, Palazzo Café, The Student Prince, and Sheraton Springfield – and a pair of local bands.

“ValleyFest provides the opportunity to not only showcase the city of Springfield, the Connecticut River Valley and Western Massachusetts, but it also showcases the creativity and the passion our brewers, our food vendors and the musicians have for their own particular craft,” Ray Berry, president of White Lion, said.

Springfield’s White Lion Brewing will play host to the event with MGM Springfield as the principal sponsor.

Seth Stratton, vice president and general counsel for MGM Springfield, indicated the gaming company’s sponsorship of the event highlighted its desire to become part of the fabric of the city.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said ValleyFest would be the latest in a series of events drawing tourism and commerce to the city of Springfield.

“When you hear those naysayers say it cannot be done, it will be done and it is being done,” he said.

Referencing the recent square dancing convention that took place at the MassMutual Center as another example he said that event “electrified the downtown area,” bringing 4,000 people from 49 states and eight countries to the City of Homes.

Bringing more “eclectic events,” he said, was part of “the next vision for my administration.”

Local breweries participating include White Lion, Iron Duke Brewing in Ludlow, Westfield River Brewing Company in Southwick, Abandoned Building Brewery and Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton, Brewmaster Jack in Northampton, Amherst Brewing Company and High Horse Brewing, also of Amherst.

Every New England state will be represented by at least one brewery and national brands such as Oskar Blues (Colorado), Balast Point (California) Troegs (Pennsylvania) , Sierra Nevada (California), Goose Island (Illinois) and Stone (California) will be on hand.

In addition, Marc Stroobandt, Stella Artois’ Master Beer Sommelier will be on hand from Belgium.

“I inform, educate and entertain people about anything that has to do with beer,” Stroobandt said in a video introduction played at the press conference. “I show people how to taste it, how to pour it and how to pair it with food … With the best of Belgium representing Stella Artois, I’m going to showcase beer and food pairing magic.”

The event will feature two sessions – the first pouring from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and a second pouring from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

The Young Professionals Society of Greater Springfield will also host a home brewing competition.

Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 the day of the event with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Dakin Humane Society and the American Cancer Society.

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