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Midwest Beerfest returns this weekend, but it has a new home

2016 Midwest Beerfest

Midwest Beerfest founder Guy Bower talks about the annual Wichita craft beer testing event's move from the fall to the spring. (Video by Jerry Siebenmark/May 21, 2016)
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Midwest Beerfest founder Guy Bower talks about the annual Wichita craft beer testing event's move from the fall to the spring. (Video by Jerry Siebenmark/May 21, 2016)

It’s Midwest Beerfest weekend, and fans of craft beer will spend Saturday afternoon navigating a room full of beers brewed all over the country.

The event’s centerpiece, the Grand Tasting, will be set up much as it has been in the past with one key difference: the location. This year’s tasting has been moved to the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane.

Here’s what you need to know about Saturday’s event:

New location: Organizers of the beerfest decided to move the festival from its longtime home at Century II to the casino because, at the time they needed to sign their contract, Century II’s future was uncertain. The casino has plenty of room for the festival on the floor of its arena, said beerfest organizer Beth Bower. She said she’s heard that many festival regulars have booked rooms at the casino and plan to make a night of it.

Lots of beer: The festival will feature more than 300 craft beers, making it “the largest craft beer festival in Kansas,” Bower said. Attendees will be invited to roam from booth to booth sampling. Even in the new location, the festival will be organized by the regions where the beers are produced, and if the weather is cooperating, beers from the southern region will be on an outside patio at the casino along with food trucks and music by the band For the Birds.

Several Wichita-area brewers also will be at the festival, including River City Brewing, Wichita Brewing Company, Hanks is Wiser and Walnut River.

Chicken wings: It’s the ninth consecutive year for the Midwest Chickenfest, a festival within a festival that invites local restaurants to compete with their best chicken wings. For $8, attendees can sample wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Stop, Rusty Nail, Texas Roadhouse, Wings & Things, Pam’s Wings with Things and the Kansas Star Casino.

Fest extras: The festival also will include a silent auction, a dance contest once everyone gets loose, and a Sam Adams Beer Stein Hoisting. Also, as usual, bagpipers will open the festival.

Beer dinners: There may still be some seats available to the beer dinners scheduled for Friday at the Kansas Star Casino, at Larkspur and at Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House. They’re $55 a person and include full meals with beer pairings. To check on availability, call 316-682-5502.

The cause: The beerfest is raising money for Prairie Travelers/Andover Augusta Rail Trail Initiative, a group that’s working to expand the Redbud Trail between the two cities. Beerfest attendees can help support the charity by bidding on silent-auction items, which will include gift cards, jewelry and more.

Tickets: Tickets to the Grand Tasting are $45. A designated driver ticket is $15. The festival is using an online ticketing agency this year, and tickets can be purchased at vendini.com until 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Cash-only ticket sales also will happen at the door.

Midwest Beerfest

What: A sampling of more than 300 craft beers

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Kansas Star Arena, Mulvane

How much: $45, $15 for designated drivers

Tickets: Electronic tickets available at vendini.com until 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Cash-only sales also will happen at the door.

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