The Louisville Independent Business Alliance first hosted Brewfest in 2009, but the local business organization is saying goodbye to the event.
“The industry has been so successful that there’s now a plethora of breweries and beer festivals to choose from in our fair city, and craft beer is widely available — from gas stations to church picnics. LIBA has also experienced incredible growth and change, and it’s time for us to close the book on the Louisville Brewfest,” according to a statement from the organization. “We’ve had some amazing times at the Brewfest, and we give a great, great big thank you to all the folks who have supported and enjoyed the event over the years.”
LIBA’s leadership isn’t wrong. Louisville now has more than a dozen breweries, and other groups have stepped up specifically to showcase the city’s brewery scene through various events. According to LIBA’s statement, only five breweries were in operation in Louisville when it started Brewfest.
In a phone interview, LIBA executive director Jennifer Rubenstein said that it was becoming harder for the organization to compete with other newer beer festivals, and since it was a fund-raised, they tried to keep entry prices low and didn’t cap attendance, making it a huge effort.
“We have always had a great time with it, but it’s a whole, whole lot of work,” she said.
Rubenstein added that Brewfest was actually the reason she was able to come on as a full-time paid staff member. It was able to generate enough funds to support her position, which she previously held on a contract basis.
“We owe a lot to Brewfest,” she said. It gave “us the resources we have today.”
However, the business alliance is planning to replace Brewfest with “another public event” that is currently in the early planning stages. The statement is vague about what exactly that could be, but it notes that per its mission, the new event will allow people to support local businesses. LIBA also hosts the popular annual Buy Local Fair, which will continue into the future.
Rubenstein told Insider that the event will include local food, beers and distillers, as well as some type of “recognition of independent businesses of all types.” The event will premiere sometime next year and will likely be called LIBAtions.
She added that the event planning is still in the very early stages.
The organization recently approved its first-ever long-term strategic plan, which lays out goals for the next five years. The goals include increasing consumers’ ability to support LIBA’s mission and taking more of an advocacy role when it comes to laws that will impact small businesses.