Since 2012 the Big Sip has been North Carolina’s Craft Beverage Festival
by Kristen Margo Daukas
The first and longest-running craft beverage festival, The Big Sip, is now at BB&T Ballpark Downtown in Winston-Salem! The festival originated in 2012 in Greensboro, and since moved to the Millennium Center. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, October 5th from 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm under the covered portion of the concourse at BB&T Ballpark and will happen rain or shine – no umbrellas needed should it rain!
What started off as strictly a craft beverage festival has morphed into a craft beverage festival that also includes food – the spring festival features a Mac & Cheese cook-off and the fall festival features a Chili & Stew cook-off. It made perfect sense to add the cook-off into the festival as it gave the many restaurants an opportunity to also showcase their food and expose themselves to an audience that may not have had the chance to eat at their establishments! Truly a win-win for both the attendees and the restaurants.
Over the years, the festival sold out and drew more than 3,000 people, and with the change in venue, festival planners feel confident this year’s festival could be the largest in the number of attendees. 2018 also boasted the largest number of NC Distilleries under one roof with more than 30 distilleries pouring their premium, craft beverages. Whether you’re a fan of bourbon, vodka, gin, or other libations, you are guaranteed to leave the festival having tasted the best that NC has to offer when it comes to craft beverages. And it’s not just liquor being served at The Big Sip – you can expect NC wineries, as well as non-alcoholic beverage options such as Sunshine Beverages, Krankies, and more!
Those who purchase the food and beverage ticket will have the chance to taste chili or stew from several different restaurants. As has been the case in the past, there will be a people’s choice vote as well as a secret judges vote. There will be a first, second, and third place winner that the restaurants will compete for. Interestingly, last year’s Mac & Cheese winners were completely different between the people’s choice award and the judge’s award so it will be fun to see if that type of voting repeats itself!
Craft beer fans – you are not being left out! At press, there are currently more than 25 of the State’s best breweries that will be attending for guests to try something new or stick with their familiar favorites. Triad brewery favorites such as Foothills Brewing Co, Wise Man, Fiddlin’ Fish, Incendiary, and more will be present as well as many from across the state. It will be a great day to be a craft beer fan!
Local restaurants and beverage makers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the exposure and the festival, a portion of the proceeds are also donated back into the communities. A few of those include Winston-Salem Jaycees, Stepping Stone Canine Rescue, NC Brewers Guild, NC Brewers Alliance, and others to be named soon. Giving back to the communities is an important and integral piece of what the festival stands for – the Triad and the people who live in it.
The Big Sip Craft Beverage Festival is inviting organizations that help promote the arts and local business in Downtown Winston-Salem to have booth space at the festival. Downtown Festivals should help as many downtown businesses as possible but too many times people park and leave without learning more about the city. The goal of the Big Sip is to introduce people from across the state to as much of what Winston-Salem as to offer as possible.
Attendees have several ticket options for The Big Sip – you can opt for Beverage only, food only, and then beverage and food combined. Admission includes Craft Beverage samples from area breweries, wineries, distilleries and craft beverage makers from the Carolina area. The Big Sip is a great way to spend a beautiful fall day with your friends but the number of food tickets is limited so you’ll want to get those as soon as possible. Attendees DO have to be 21 or older in order to attend the event and IDs will be checked upon arrival. We also encourage using Uber or Lyft to ensure everyone who participates does so safely. There are plenty of area hotels in the downtown district that you can stay at and make it a full day and night affair! See you at The Big Sip!
Restaurants can still sign up to compete in the cook-off for the boasting rights to having the Best Chili or Stew in the Piedmont by going to BigSipFest.com