Thousands pack Raleigh for annual Brewgaloo festival

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While it's easy to focus on the pure spectacle of it, this is an important festival for small businesses. (WTVD)

The annual Brewgaloo Festival wrapped up Saturday night on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, after thousands of people packed several blocks for the annual event.

More than 100 North Carolina craft breweries set up tents on Friday and Saturday, providing a platform to meet directly with potential customers.

"We have two of our flagship beers on today. And to see the people come and say 'oh this is my favorite,' or see the folks that haven't actually tried one of those beers and they're like 'oh, where can I go now and get it,' we can point - literally point where they can go get it from here," explained Chris Mincey, the Sales Director at Raleigh-based Trophy Brewing.

The wide range of craft breweries was a welcome sight to Wake Forest's Kurt Gandy, who's been to Oktoberfest in Germany.

"It's getting a lot better in the States comparatively with all the craft breweries now," Gandy said, as he sat next to his wife near all the tents.

There are about 260 craft breweries in North Carolina, the most of any state in the South.

The Brewers Association, a national trade group, reports the industry has a $2 billion annual economic impact on the state, and employs more than 10,000 people.

"People get a chance to come in, try a lot of North Carolina beers. Beers that are grown right here in the State - from the mountains to the Coast," said Kevin Tyndall, the Sales Manager for Boone-based Appalachian Mountain Brewery.

Tyndall noted the crowd's size has skyrocketed over the years.

"The growing population here - it's vital to get new people coming in, the opportunity to try our beer and see what we're all about," said Tyndall.

While many of the estimated 30,000 people were from North Carolina, others, like the Interdonato's, traveled from out-of-state for the weekend.

"We enjoy beer, but this is the only event like this that we go to," said Nick Interdonato.

Already the country's second largest craft brewery festival, Mincey believes it's still not done growing.

"I think we still have untapped potential of Raleigh as a beer city. And that will only get stronger," Mincey said.

While the focus was on craft breweries, many other businesses took advantage of the large crowds to spread brand awareness.

Winston-Salem-based Sunshine, which sells energy drinks, said they had gone through 160 cases of product in about the first hour Saturday.
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