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Monday, September 5, 2016

Dave Alexander Shares Some Thoughts on The Burning Foot Beer Festival in Muskegon

By Dave Alexander - MUSKEGON – At Pere Marquette Beach in the early evening of Aug. 27, I discovered the next “Big Thing” for Muskegon events: Burning Foot Beer Festival.
I must admitted I am not craft beer fan – I am partial to the products expected to be produced at the 18th Amendment and West Michigan Rum Co. distilleries – but Burning Foot this year was on fire.

As a west-end resident, I was thrilled by the 4,000-plus craft beer fans taking over a swath of Pere Marquette beach on a Saturday evening. The place was energized with people from 22 states tasting the products of more than 50 vendors from three states.

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Some 50 percent of those attending Burning Foot this year were from outside of Muskegon County, promoters say. Now that’s introducing plenty of new people to what makes Muskegon special.
Hats off to the Lakeshore Brewers Guild, which conceived the Burning Foot concept last year and pulled off such an incredible second-year event. This again proves that Muskegon knows how to produce an event and in this case show off its best asset.

This event has “feet,” as they would say. The upside potential of Burning Foot is huge as promoters blend craft beer, millennials and their baby boomer parents with a drop-dead gorgeous location on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. And there was an eye-popping sunset to boot.
Promoters say that there is no other beer festival where so many vendors gather on a sandy beach and where patrons can dip their toes into a Great Lake. I’ll take their word for it. Patrons this year seem charged up about the beer, music and the environment.  

Courtesy Burning Foot Beer Festival
The next Big Thing?
During my reporting and editing years at The Muskegon Chronicle, I have seen local events and festivals come and go from the Muskegon Air Fair to Summer Celebration and Muskegon Bike Time to the Unity Christian Muskegon Festival. I remember asking county tourism officials what’s the next “Big Thing” for Muskegon as the Air Fair ended a successful run of annual events.
The answer quickly became Muskegon Bike Time – and now Rebel Road – arguably the largest event with the most economic boost to Muskegon and the surrounding Lakeshore region. There is no reason that Burning Foot can’t grow to be just as significant over time.

Who knows where organizers, vendors and patrons will take this event. From year one to year two, Burning Foot increased its footprint on the beach, boosted its vendors and brought in an incredibly festive and appreciative crowd. The evening was capped off with the first mass camping at Pere Marquette Beach in generations.

Courtesy Burning Foot Beer Festival

Talking to some of my west-end neighbors in the city of Muskegon’s Bluffton Neighborhood, it seems the event went over well with what at times can be a cantankerous bunch. Many of us realize that these events come and go and that the neighborhood and the city must share “our” beach with the community and the region for everyone’s benefit.

Events like Burning Foot are going to keep the momentum in Muskegon going. Mark my words, Burning Foot will be another Big Thing for Muskegon in three to five years as long as promoters grow it in a sustainable manner.

I can’t wait for Burning Foot 3 in 2017.

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Dave Alexander is the head of Downtown Muskegon and contributes to Positively Muskegon as a writer.  Our sincere thanks to Dave not only for keeping hie writing skills sharp but for his long devotion to making Muskegon a better place through his reporting.

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