By Eric Elliott

Pioneer Staff

Craft beer enthusiasts from around the valley, get ready, the East Kootenay Beer Festival will be returning for the fifth consecutive year at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

The event will take place on Saturday, June 18th starting at 4 p.m. with 45 different varieties of beer from over 12 different breweries. This years Beer Fest marks the fifth annual festival after the resort sold out last years event with 500 tickets.

This year, organizers have decided to add an additional 200 tickets, bringing their maximum capacity to 700 people. Patrick Tolchard, special events co-ordinator at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, said the picturesque mountain scenery surrounding the festival separates it from many similar festivals across Western Canada.

Tickets for the event will be $59, which includes access to the after party with local band Valley Forged playing at the resorts ski chalet. The resort is also offering a Lodge Package starting at $359 that includes two tickets to the Beer Festival plus a classic room from June 17th to 18th and unlimited access to the hot springs and exclusive guest amenities. Other packages include the camping package at Spruce Grove for $170 (two people) and the RV Resort for $198 (all prices are without taxes included).

Aside from the beer that will be served, the resort also plans to offer live music in Bears Paw Bar & Grill with Billy Kulyk and Friends playing. A long drive competition is also happening Friday night from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Fairmont Hot Spring Resort Airport, which is open to everyone to see how far they can drive the ball down the runway. It will be $15 for three balls or chances at the longest drive and $10 for children 12 and under.

There will also be a shuttle service the night of the beer fest running from Radium through Invermere all the way to Canal Flats. Mr. Tolchard said this is very important for an event like this to ensure that people are able to get to and from the event safely and ensure no one is drinking and driving.

He said that running the annual Beer Festival is a great opportunity to promote local businesses and breweries and promote local product.

Beer fest attendees are more likely to visit a local brewer like Arrowhead as it is located right in Invermere making it easily accessible, Mr. Tolchard said. Having this event also gives breweries a chance to showcase their product and in turn get it on the shelves of our local liquor stores and in restaurants.

Call Fairmont Hot Springs Resort at 1-800-663-4979 to purchase your tickets.