The Missoula Downtown Association is going to warm up Caras Park on Friday, Feb. 15, for its third annual Winter BrewFest.
The organization is hauling in heaters and will light several bonfires so people can enjoy 30 microbrews inside the Caras Park Pavilion.
The outdoor venue is the third location for the event, which MDA administrative assistant Julie Walsh said has yet to find a permanent home.
“We were looking for space and decided we’d give Caras Park a try,” Walsh said. “We’re trying to show everyone Caras Park is a viable winter venue as long as you have the proper setup.”
The inaugural Winter BrewFest in 2012 was held in the former Macy’s building, now being renovated as the Historical Missoula Mercantile. Last year, St. Patrick Hospital offered up the old Safeway building on West Broadway for the event. Both brewfests have been well attended and raised thousands of dollars for MDA projects.
This year, the Winter BrewFest will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Caras Park. Admission is $10 per person and includes one 7-ounce commemorative glass and two beer tokens. Additional tokens are $1 each.
The brewfest is being held in conjunction with the first night of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, which is offering a free screening of its opening night film, Nina Davenport’s “First Comes Love,” at the WIlma Theatre.
To keep beer drinkers warm, the pavilion’s wall system will enclose the space, Walsh said.
“Then, we’re also having smaller tents coming out of either side of the (pavilion) – under those two smaller tents is where the beer is. They’ll kind of funnel the crowd into the pavilion,” Walsh said.
Bonfires will be lit outside the tents.
Beyond the bonfires, the event’s entertainment offerings will have new flare, Walsh said.
Logan Foret, owner of Bassface Productions, has been contracted to run the event and has invited the Missoula Sea of Flames fire dancers to perform. Local artist Amber Bushnell will also be performing 3-D on-stage projections, Walsh said.
Three Eared Dog and the Kevin Van Dort Band also will perform.
Shoulder season events at Caras Park have been growing, and if all goes well, the park could become the Winter BrewFest’s permanent home, Walsh said.
“Hopefully, we’re opening people’s eyes that the park is a place to hang out during the winter,” Walsh said.
Kettlehouse Brewing Co. is co-hosting the event. Food vendors will include El Cazador and MacKenzie River Pizza Co. The 30 microbrews offered will be from around the region.
“We’re really looking forward to the different setup this year,” Walsh said. “People will have to bundle up, but who doesn’t love a good bonfire, good beer and good people?”