Genoa’s third annual Volksfest Craft Beer and Wine Festival almost was like a family reunion for Kelly Brasseur.
The Genoa resident was sipping wine in the craft beer tent Saturday, mingling with family and friends who she hadn’t seen in a while.
Brasseur was one of hundreds of folks who packed the tent at David Carroll Memorial Park to enjoy beer from local breweries, wine from Genoa’s Prairie State Winery and food from local vendors.
“I just saw a neighbor I hadn’t seen in a year,” Brasseur said. “I’m able to spend time with people I love. This is great. I love it. I’m really enjoying the wine and the music.”
Genoa was filled with live music, craft beer and wine, and plenty of plastic ducks over the weekend, which also included a 6K or 10K Volksmarch, which is a noncompetitive walk that takes participants on a stroll throughout the city.
About 50 people took to the streets for the Volksmarch, which was sponsored by the Kishwaukee Valley Wanderers. The group’s president, Carolyn Tobinson, said she was pleased with the turnout, but is hoping to grow the event because of its accessibility to residents of all ages.
“This is completely different than any other 5K. It’s more about fun and fellowship with some physical fitness,” she said. “We’re hoping to build our club and get people involved because it’s a relaxed atmosphere, and pets and kids are all welcome to participate.”
After the Volksmarch ended about midday Saturday, the festival continued at the craft beer tent, which featured more than 25 beers from
12 breweries in the Chicago area and wine from Prairie State Winery.
Brian Wallace, organizer of the craft beer tent, said he’s excited because it has become popular with residents and out-of-towners who visit Genoa specifically for the event.
“We have quality beer represented here. And they are all local breweries, within 60 miles from us,” he said. “People come here from out of town and see everything we have here. We have a beautiful town with a gorgeous park on the river. This is a really nice event, and people want to participate.”
Rick Mamoser, owner of Prairie State Winery, provided samples of
10 wines – everything from very dry to very sweet, and reds, whites and fruit wines.
“This is our hometown, and we want to support the home team,” Mamoser said. “Most people here know about us, so it’s more about helping the event take off and succeed.”
The Forge Brewhouse of Sycamore provided samples of two of its best-sellers – a black IPA and an Irish red ale. Head brewer John Sanderson said he has been participating in the event since it began, and he always looks forward to it.
“We’re sampling two of our best-sellers and most popular beers,” he said. “We try to go to places where we’re not too far so people can come to Sycamore to try our beers and our pizza. This is great exposure.”
Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary enjoyed the beer, food and atmosphere Saturday, and he said he was pleased to see so many residents but also to see many people come from out of town.
“People come from quite a ways for this festival because it’s unique. Nowhere else has a festival like this where you can walk in the morning and enjoy a beer fest in the afternoon, and then have a duck race on Sunday,” Vicary said. “This offers something different. All the craft brewers are in one place. You might have to travel 100 miles to try them all. So this resonates and draws people out.”
Alderman Pam Wesner, a Genoa resident, said the entire weekend is an exciting event for the whole community.
“This is a fabulous event. It brings a lot of people from other communities, so we can show off our town and the park, and it’s nice to enjoy our local winery,” she said.
The festival, which began Friday night with live music at “Rockin’ the Kish,” was capped off Sunday with a Boy Scout breakfast, the 14th annual Great Genoa Duck Race and helicopter rides.
Cortney Strohacker, executive director of the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce, described the weekend as a “huge block party for the community.”
“We’ve had such a great reception, and I think it’s partly because we’re using resources in Genoa that not too many people know is there. The location is beautiful – it’s right on the river,” she said. “And the great thing about Volksfest is because so many local organizations come out and collaborate on one event. It’s awesome we all work together.”