RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vendors and breweries lined up along Fayetteville Street for the 10th annual Brewgaloo in downtown Raleigh on Friday and Saturday, drawing one of the biggest crowds to the area since the beginning of the pandemic.
"It's a lot of fun. It's been a while. Things have been weird for the last 18 months or so. But everybody's loving it, the response has been great. People are really happy to be back out here and interacting with each other," said Dustin Nutter, a regional sales representative for Carolina Brewery, based in Chapel Hill.
This year's event was scaled down, with 70 breweries participating, about half as many as in 2019. For those that did attend, it provided a valuable chance to connect directly with customers.
"It's very important for us. It just gives us an opportunity to go to an area we normally wouldn't be at and be able to offer our craft to people who normally wouldn't have an opportunity or even know that we exist. So for us, this is an excellent opportunity for marketing and again to just help build that camaraderie," said Troy Rassmussen, the founder of Gaston Brewing Company, based in Fayetteville.
The return of an in-person event of this magnitude is welcomed by both vendors and attendees.
"Enthusiastic and ecstatic. It's so great to be back. A sense of normalcy, although things aren't normal quite yet. But this is just another example of the resilience and ability to just see people back out and about and seeing the things that they like. So it's a great opportunity, it's a great time to be part of," said Rasmussen.
"It feels wonderful to be around people again. And it just feels good to be out," said Tessa Toomey, who lives downtown.
William Catlett, who lives in Raleigh, agreed.
"Feels great. Seeing everybody out, not stressing as much," he said.
Organizers noted that they left some side streets off of Fayetteville open to allow for extra space and physical distancing. The entire event was outdoors, which did provide some extra comfort for attendees.
"It's always going to be an issue, but you know this is our new norm," said Catlett.
Toomey added: "I'm trying to make the best of it. I had to have the vaccine for work, and so I've done that. But there's, I don't want to say there's only so much we can do but, but we all need to do our part, and then go on about life."
Final attendance numbers were not available as of Saturday evening, though an organizer told ABC11 that at least 25,000 people showed up for the event.
Return of Brewgaloo draws big crowd to downtown Raleigh