Tomorrow afternoon, the 9th Annual Lincoln Lager Barley Fest will return to the Merrill Area Recreation Complex.
As Parks and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf explains, the event has grown to fulfill every bit of his hopes and aspirations for the event, since the festival’s conceptual days and inception in 2007.
“It’s been a neat event which we intended to start from the ground and build our way up, with hopes of making it a destination event for our community. We hoped for it to grow and draw people to visit Merrill and enjoy everything our community has to offer. I feel we have accomplished that. Our attendance has grown every year,” he adds.
“Last year we had hosted 575 visitors which is roughly 100 more than in 2014. Visitors not only came out here to enjoy our atmosphere and vendors but in turn stayed at local hotels, stopped in to local businesses and dined at local restaurants. I feel this has really become an event our community can be proud of and that’s exactly what we were hoping for from the beginning. We have always had the mentality of keeping Barley Fest a work in progress and a learning experience. Our goal is and always will be to enhance the experience of our visitors as well as our vendors and brewers. The better we can take care of them, the higher probability they will return next year.”
In terms of vendors and brewers, visitors will enjoy 125 various products on Saturday from 40 vendors from around the state as well as out of state.
Anyone concerned with the possibility of missing the 8th ranked Wisconsin Badgers taking on #4 ranked Michigan tomorrow afternoon can rest easy, thanks to Chris Kalafice and Merrill House of Music.
Friday afternoon, Kalafice delivered and set up a 60-inch flat screen television for visitors to watch the game and cheer on Bucky and the red and white.
Saturday’s event will also feature beer judging, free craft soda for designated drivers and plenty of snack options courtesy of Silver Birch Restaurant of Tomahawk (serving Burgundy Steak Soup); Victory Lane of Merrill (serving ribs); Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe of Merrill (serving homemade fudge); the Dairy Promotions Board (serving cheese samples) and presenting sponsor Dave’ County Market (serving specialty meats).
Acoustic guitarist Ron Denson of Middleton will be providing an array of music from country to classic rock.
“Ron is amazing!” Wendorf adds.
“He has played a variety of major events and we are very excited to have him back this year. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with his performance.”
Barley Fest kicks off at 2 PM tomorrow and will run until 6 PM.
Safety is and always has been a top priority and Barleyfest has partnered with Merrill Transit and Blue Jay Taxi to make sure participants travel safely from the event. Designated drivers have always been offered free admission.
Local sponsors and volunteers play a big role in the event and Wendorf is very thankful.
“The unique thing about Barleyfest is it’s completely driven by sponsors,” Wendorf said. “I have to thank them for allowing us to do this. Without the generosity of our sponsors there would be no barley fest. Dave’s county market has been our presenting sponsor every year and we have been blessed with several other long term sponsors. We can’t begin to express how appreciative we are for the valuable relationships we have established with all of our sponsors and the many volunteers who help make Barley Fest happen every year.
“Over the years we have drawn visitors from 4-5 different states as well as 60-70 cities around the state so we are very excited to see what tomorrow brings!”