Music fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have spent a good bit of time in recent years debating the merits and follies of the always-eventful music festival landscape around town.
Some start small and grow bigger each year with enormous support, some seem to bust out of the gate with a bang, only to fizzle away. Of course, there are now more than a few music fests that have announced their arrival only to never actually take place.
All of the aforementioned scenarios apply to the festival scene that has popped up around the craft beer boom in North Texas over the past several years. Just as we’ve seen an exponential boom in the number of breweries, brewpubs and craft beer-centric bars here, we have seen a regular calendar of beer festivals spring forth.
For every roaring success, such as the Big Texas Beer Festival, there have been popular ones that disappeared without hardly any warning, such as the music-beer hybrid Untapped Fest. And lest we forget, the beer scene isn't immune to the events that cancel before a first edition even takes place, as was the case with last year’s terribly named but well-intentioned CFW Fest.
The CFW fest, which was to showcase craft beer, food and wine, as well as live music from big-name acts Josh Abbott Band and Young the Giant, would’ve taken place at Globe Life Park in Arlington, the soon-to-be-evacuated home of the Texas Rangers. It wasn’t meant to be for CFW, but another event looks to finally make Globe Life Park a beer fest destination.
On Saturday, the Texas All-Star Craft Beer, Wine and Cocktail Festival will offer local craft beer and cocktail lovers a chance to enjoy their favorite liquid pastimes while also soaking up America’s favorite pastime. Produced by Philadelphia-based promoter upcomingevents.com, this is one of several ballpark-themed festivals the company produces. Organizer Ray Sheehan is excited to jump into the crowded, competitive North Texas craft beer scene.
“This market has an appetite for craft beer, wine and cocktails,” he says. “There is also a huge market to pull from — Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth, plus all the feeder areas. We actually hosted a taco festival (Texas Taco Fest) in Arlington last November, and it performed really well. It got us to thinking this area loves to party, let’s give them another event. It's also the last year at Globe Life Park, so we wanted to host a huge going-away party. Think of this as a real last call, and let’s celebrate all those amazing memories at the ballpark.”
Speaking of the ballpark (and the memories Rangers fans have accumulated over the last 25 years since it opened) beer and baseball is as classic a combo as you can dream up.
For Sheehan and upcomingevents.com, the pairing sounded as obvious, but they realized not many others were out there doing it when it came to large-scale beer festivals. He sees that unique element as a key point when looking to establish a presence in a new area.
The stadium isn't merely a location in this case. The magic of the ballpark experience is designed to be an integral part of this festival, with the opportunity to walk the base paths on the field and to take selfies in the dugout receiving equal billing to the many dozens of craft beer, wine and cocktail makers from DFW. A couple of former Rangers ballplayers, Mark McLemore and Jeff Russell, will also be on hand for autographs.
“We really wanted a point of difference,” he says. “How can we do something that no one else is doing? How can we create a one-of-a-kind experience at the ballpark? Plus, there is no better backdrop than being under the bright lights of the ballpark. I think we accomplish that with all the different activities happening throughout the event. The drinking and sampling aspects are just one of many things to do.”
This isn't the group’s first baseball-themed celebration of all things alcoholic. They first got into the realm in 2017 with a festival at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia. Along with the Texas event, and another Philly fest, the group will host similar shindigs in 2019 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, as well as Target Field in Minneapolis, the home of the Minnesota Twins.
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Sheehan says even more stadium festivals will be added to its docket in 2020, including a return to Arlington for a festival inside the still-under-construction Globe Life Field.
Regardless of where his events are taking place, Sheehan has learned a great deal about the craft beer consumer since that first ballpark festival in 2017. He believes that will help him, no matter where the stadium is and where the beers are brewed.
“The industry is changing and evolving so fast,” he says. “There is so much out there. Humans are just curious creatures, and they are always looking for the next thing. Their thirst for craft beer, wine and cocktails change with the seasons. So, it’s our job to be on the cutting edge and introduce those new brands locally, regionally and even on an international level.”
The Texas All-Star Craft Beer, Wine and Cocktail Festival is from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Globe Life Park in Arlington, 1000 Ballpark Way. Visit ballparkfestival.com for tickets and information.