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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Are Beer Festivals Recession Proof?

The ticket scalpers at the NCAA Final Four Basketball Tournament reported prices were way down from last year. It's the same for scalpers at this weekend's Master's Golf Tournament. At the start of the Major League Baseball season estimates were that group sales and single ticket sales were down near 1 million from the same point last season. And NASCAR tracks are reporting pre-race sales are off nearly 20 percent.

People have cut back on sports tickets, but they appear to still be more than willing to buy beer festival tickets.

Two upcoming festivals in North Carolina are proof that craft beer has a very loyal following, even in tough economic times. The World Beer Festival in Raleigh, slated for May 2nd, is already sold out. Organizers reported last week that all 7,500 tickets are gone. Even more impressive is the fact that 12,000 tickets for the Brewgrass Festivall in Asheville on Sept. 19th also recently sold out.

Scalpers are now a common site at beer festivals. I never really minded the folks trying to unload a ticket or two for friends who were not able to make the event. What is now more bothersome is the fact that professionals are starting to move in and buy up tickets for festivals they know will sell out and turning to places like Craig's List to make a quick buck. In today's economy, people need to find a way to make a living. And I know beer fans are willing to pay extra rather than be closed out of these festivals. I just like the idea of the real value of a beer festival ticket being the opportunity to get inside and taste the beer, rather than what you can get for it on the curb outside.

Perhaps festivals will have to start holding back 100 tickets to sell on the day of the event as a way of taking the air out of the scalpers trade.

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