Suwanee Likes the Taste of Beerfest

Patrons line up early for first-time event at Town Center Park.

Updated 9:10 a.m., July 25, 2011

For Duluth attorney Jason Rhoades, Saturday's Suwanee Beerfest was an opportunity for some target marketing.

His booth at the Suwanee Beerfest offered patrons a chance for representation at a DUI hearing. Rhoades noted that efforts at other beerfests have been productive.

"A lot of people don't remember where they saw us," he said.

He and other vendors at the first Suwanee Beerfest had lots of foot traffic. People began lining up before the noon opening. Before 2 p.m., the line for pre-paid patrons stretched into Town Center Avenue and doubled back around in front of City Hall. Others had to stand in another line to get a ticket first.

Organizers were expecting 4,000 people. If they hit that, it would be at least $140,000 in ticket revenue alone.

The event was virtually trouble free. There was just one arrest, for disorderly conduct, according to Suwanee Police spokesperson Clyde Byers.

For avid Jimmy Buffett fan Alicia Allen of Suwanee, it was five o'clock somewhere. She and husband Charlie had their pretzel necklaces on. They have been to such events in Chattanooga and Decatur.

"To me, the one in Chattanooga promoted drinking more," Alicia Allen said.

Other Suwanee patrons agreed.

Pfc. Matthew Striplin of Savannah came with a friend to visit her family, and took in the festival. Of the noon start, he said, "Why not? It's the weekend. ... This is more sip and taste."

Erik Gakstatter of Dacula was enthusiastic.

"I've been eyeing a good beer," he said, noting that he had played tennis at 9 a.m. Saturday. "It's the South. There's never a bad time (to have a beer)."

Live music also was a part of the scene (see attached video). Bands started performing about 1 p.m.


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