DALLAS TWP. — Held at the Luzerne County Fairgrounds and surrounded by mountains bursting with color, the inaugural Back Mountain Brew Fest was a hit with local and out-of-town beer lovers.
Sponsored by the Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS, Saturday’s event featured 40 breweries, food vendors, live entertainment, crafts and games such as a giant-sized beer pong contest.
“We’re very happy with the turnout,” said Bobby Skasko, chairman of the event.
Skasko, who is the ambulance chief and fire lieutenant for the Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS, said funds from the event will be earmarked to help purchase a LUCAS device, an automated CPR machine. The device runs about $17,000.
Roughly 500 tickets were sold in advance of the event, said Back Mountain Regional EMS volunteer Brenda Pugh.
“I’ve got people on Facebook asking me if we take credit cards. That’s pretty good,” she said. “For the first time out of the gate, there’s been a lot of interest and a lot of vendors that wanted to get in at the last minute.
“Next year, it’s going to be even bigger and better even though this year it’s pretty great.”
As the line at his table kept growing, it was evident that Fred Maier, co-founder of Susquehanna Brewing Company, wasn’t getting a break any time soon.
Working alone, Maier jumped from one tap to another, filling glass after glass with beer from his truck. When asked what the most popular beer out of the five he offered was, Maier said it was a toss-up between Goldencold Lager and Belgian Tripel.
Maier said he participates in beer festivals all over the Mid-Atlantic region.
“It’s fun to get out and meet people and talk about the beer,” he said. “That’s the best part of making beer. I do this all over the state, so it’s fun to do one in your own backyard.”
Wearing a necklace strung with pretzels and sipping a Belgian Tripel, Steve Kronenwetter, 59, of Elk County, said he heard about the festival from his son, who lives in Dallas.
“This is a gorgeous fall day, with great entertainment, great food and a really nice venue,” he said.
Holding glasses of Lancaster Pumpkin Ale, Dallas residents Rachel Vidumsky and Paige Makowsky, both 22, said they came to the festival mostly to try the fall beers, but also sampled a variety of others.
“It’s nice to try the different beers that you don’t get at the local bars,” said Makowsky.
“It’s really nice that this is in Dallas,” added Vidumsky, pointing out that she and her friend usually have to travel out of the area to attend beer festivals.
“I’m so excited to be here,” she said. “It’s a really fun environment, and everyone is really welcoming.”