ELMHURST – In its fourth year, the Elmhurst Craft Beer Fest has attracted a record number of participating breweries and sponsors for the event, which will be held the afternoon of Sept. 15 at the Elmhurst History Museum's grounds, 120 E. Park Ave., Elmhurst.
The event, which is a fundraiser to benefit the museum and the Churchville Schoolhouse, will feature 54 brewers and cidermakers, which is 20 more than last year's event, museum Executive Director Dave Oberg said.
Oberg said the Elmhurst Heritage Foundation, which helps raise money for the museum, sees a lot of potential for growth of the event.
"The sky's the limit," he said. "We want to make this as big and splashy and fun as we can."
Oberg, who joined the museum in November 2017, said he is "very excited" for his first fest, which has been planned since January.
Oberg is an occasional home brewer himself and personally interested in craft beer since he did a home stay in Germany while he was in high school, where he learned about German beers, and developed an interest in the craft brewing scene in graduate school.
"I just think it's outstanding that this is our major fundraiser," he said.
Oberg said the event will allow people an opportunity to try beers they may never have heard of before and find out what they like and what they don't, while listening to bands play music and having an afternoon outdoors. The museum itself also will be open during the event.
The festival is the major fundraiser the foundation holds for the museum, and the funds help with exhibits, transportation costs for student field trips and family friendly programs, he said. Next year's exhibits will include historical wedding dresses, amusement parks, Illinois railroads' impact on Elmhurst and children's impact on history, as well as a traveling exhibit on political posters.
"And frankly it also raises awareness of what a beautiful campus we have here and the beautiful buildings we have here on site as well and brings some new people to town," Oberg said.
Working in partnership with the Elmhurst City Centre, the event organizers provide the first 200 customers attending the fest with a coupon for local businesses and restaurants.
Oberg said he has seen a lot of dedication to the event from volunteers, including Dave Noble, who is the general manager at Pints and a member of the fest committee.
Noble said he sent personalized email invitations to about 165 breweries to ask them to participate in the fest, as he wanted to top last year's participation, and he also is managing the event's Facebook page.
Pints also held a series of events centered around breweries participating in the fest, including drawings to give away five pairs of Elmhurst Craft Beer Fest tickets Pints had received as a major sponsor of the fest.
Noble said he hopes the breweries participating have a good experience.
"I really want them to all walk away saying, 'Yeah, for sure I'll come back and do this one again next year,' " he said.
While Elmhurst locals might come to the event to support the museum, people who are coming to the event because it is a beer fest want to know the cost and which breweries are participating since beer fests are common events in the Chicago area, Noble said.
He said about 30 styles of beer, including IPAs, New England IPAs, pale ales, sours, märzens, ciders and wheat ales, will be at the event brought by local representatives of breweries across the country.
Cathy Jordan, the Elmhurst Heritage Foundation's chairwoman for the fest, said this year's event has received a record level of sponsorship, both in terms of the number of sponsors and the amount of financial support.
Pints is an event and platinum level sponsor, and the other platinum level sponsors of the event are Lakeside Bank, Suburban Bank & Trust and The Marke by Opus.
The festival will be held rain or shine, with large tents providing cover, Oberg said.
"Craft beer aficionados tend to be a hardy bunch. I used to volunteer at the big event up in Grayslake every year, and rain or shine, boy oh boy, everybody seemed to come," he said.
If you go
WHAT: Elmhurst Craft Beer Fest
WHEN: noon to 1 p.m. early admission, 1 to 5 p.m. general admission Sept. 15
WHERE: Elmhurst History Museum grounds, 120 E. Park Ave., Elmhurst
COST: $50 for general admission, $65 for limited early admission, $20 for designated driver admission