As Wilmington’s craft beer community continues to grow, so does its beer-fest scene. I’ve discussed the growing amount of Oktoberfest celebrations, but I’m excited to welcome a new contender: Marchtoberfest. It’s based off of the German Frühlingsfest, smaller events hosted in Munich. Basically, it’s just like Oktoberfest but it’s in April/May.
Wilmington’s first Marchtoberfest is being thrown by two Wilmington craft-beer torchbearers, Ellie Craig of Front Street Brewery and Jeremy Tomlinson of Port City Brew Bus and Wilmington Ale Trail. Craig also acts as current president of the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance (CFCBA), a position Tomlinson previously held. Not to be confused with Cape Fear Craft Beer Week (March 20-29), Marchtoberfest is earlier in the month, March 7.
The Munich Frühlingsfest features all of the bells and whistles of Oktoberfest—rides, games and liters of beer—just on a smaller scale. While Marchtoberfest won’t have a ferris wheel in the Coastline Convention Center, there’s plenty 5-ounce pours and fun to have come Saturday. I sat down with Craig and Tomlinson to discuss the festivities.
encore (e): What was the inspiration to do this in Wilmington?
Ellie Craig (EC): Wilmington already has a great outdoor fall beer festival. This indoor spring beer festival will be a little different in that we are featuring all North Carolina craft breweries.
Jeremy Tomlinson (JT): The theme for the festival is Frühlingsfest—Oktoberfest’s little sister.
e: How did you go about inviting breweries?
EC: We have a lot of friends we’ve made through other work we have done within the North Carolina craft-beer industry. We reached out to some craft breweries we knew would be an exciting draw, some breweries whose beers you can’t get your hands on in Wilmington, and of course all of our local brewers.
JT: We also reached out to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild for help.
e: What are you most excited about?
EC: We are giving away two trips to Oktoberfest 2020 in Munich, with airfare voucher, awesome hotel and festival passes. It’s going to be amazing to see two lucky ticket holders win a life-changing prize!
JT: So many things! We are excited to see North Carolina breweries bring in classic German styles, as well as other really cool beers a lot of locals may not have ever tried. Also, the games should be a lot of fun. We are really trying to tap into the carnival-like atmosphere present at Oktoberfest and Frühlingsfest. Also, [I’m] pretty excited about our 12-foot-by-24-foot cornhole board.
e: What food can VIP ticket holders expect to enjoy?
EC: Bratwurst sandwiches on pretzel buns and soft pretzels with beer cheese.Also, VIPs will get an hour early entry, so first dibs on beer, with low lines and additional samples in the beer garden.
e: I think it’s wonderful you guys decided to donate proceeds to the Steve Haydu St. Patrick’s Lo Tide Run. What led you to that decision? Do you plan to switch up the local nonprofit pairing in the future or stick with this one?
JT: A friend in the beer industry was a beneficiary a few years ago. We were talking one day and he told us about the run. It seemed like a great fit.
EC: [The Lo-Tide Run] is a wonderful organization that assists New Hanover County cancer patients with financial hardships. It’s an important cause because we are all affected by cancer. While our initial plan was to switch up who benefits from our proceeds, we may choose to work with the same nonprofit organizations in the future.
e: I love all the videos on Facebook. How did you get a bearded German fella and a leprechaun to get along?
EC: It certainly has been fun creating all of the content for our marketing campaign! These two guys have been so easy to work with because they are so creative during production. We’ve laughed a lot and we’ve consumed a fair amount of beer.
JT: I mean, beer is always key but those guys are awesome. I don’t know who had more fun, us filming or them playing and dancing around on camera.