Saturday, July 8, 2017

Grand Rapids Tots and Beer Festival

The idea of sampling craft beers and eating interesting preparations of tater tots is a good one. The execution could use some work, though.
This festival was held in downtown Grand Rapids at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, right by the river. A friend and I drove down, found parking easily, and walked over to the park. Nice area, and there was plenty of room fenced off for the festival goers. Couldn't ask for better weather - sunny with occasional cloud cover, upper 70s, bit of a breeze off the river.

There were eight beer-serving stations, with about 30 beer options. Unfortunately, they needed about twice that many for the number of people who showed up. Compare that to last year's America On Tap festival, which had a couple of dozen serving stations. The problem isn't overcrowding - they limit the number of available tickets - so I can only assume the organizers simply didn't plan properly.
With so few places to get the beer, the lines were ridiculously long, running 20-30 minutes to get one sample. Obviously there's no way to sample every beer at that rate, or even a third of them. I ended up trying three, but no more - couldn't bring myself to stand in line any longer. I had a brown ale that was pretty good, but the others were forgettable.

The food part wasn't nearly as busy, no more than a couple of minutes wait. There were about a half-dozen stands that served a few tater tots with various toppings. Nothing amazing, but nice snacks to have in between beers. My favorite was the jalapeno popper version. They even had some dessert choices, but fried potatoes with powdered sugar or chocolate didn't seem like a particularly good idea, so I skipped those.
I like the idea of this festival, and despite the lines my friend and I had a pretty decent time. Still, I can't recommend that anyone go to this particular festival. There are enough others that don't have the organizational issues and long lines that it's kind of silly to spend money and time on this one.

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