CORNELIUS – Chris Boukedes never expected the Lake Norman Beerfest to gain such a following in just three years.

Boukedes, however, isn’t complaining. The event’s founder and promoter – along with Victory Management Group – said this year’s Beerfest promises to be better than last year’s.

“The Lake Norman area needed some good events for adults that are clean, fun and safe,” Boukedes said. “This one is all of those. It started as an event for the community and it still is, but it’s grown to a regional event where I’ve heard people are getting hotels and waiting to be a part of it.”

The Beerfest takes place 4-9 p.m. Sept. 21 at Kenton Place near the Galway Hooker off Kenton Drive. More than 50 craft beers will be available for sampling, while three live bands add to the event.

General admission tickets cost $40. V.I.P. tickets cost $50 and include a V.I.P.-only sampling 3-4 p.m. and event-themed prizes.

Boukedes said the feedback he’s already gotten from residents has been positive. As the event grows, Boukedes said, he’ll look into expanding the Beerfest to Charlotte.
The original one, however, will stay in the lake area.

“That’s not going to change no matter how much we expand,” Boukedes said. “It’s something different than what you’d get at other places. We’re not a drunkfest. We’re here to savor and appreciate the beer. It’s a good cultural event for the community.”

Darrin Pikarsky, the founder of the Charlotte Beer Club and Charlotte Craft Beer Week, said the lake area is fortunate to get such a festival in its backyard.

“It’s a growing tradition with all the breweries opening up around Charlotte,” Pikarsky said. “It’s pretty simple. People are relocating here from craft beer-oriented states, and they’re trying to bring that sort of passion here.”

Pikarsky believes that five years ago, the craft beer industry held just 3 percent of the profit margins Coors, Miller and Budweiser had. It’s grown to the 7-percent range thanks in part to events like the Beerfest, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to try some good craft brews and have a good time,” Pikarsky said. “When you shop for a car, you don’t settle on the lowest-rated car. People are starting to take the same approach to beers.”

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