Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita beer festival that’s organized by the brewers themselves returns this weekend

The people behind Wichita’s breweries travel to many beer festivals each year, and one of their favorites is the annual Kansas Craft Brewers Expo in Lawrence, which happens every March and draws the top brewers from around the state.

They like it so much, that they decided to launch something similar in Wichita. Last year, the Prairieland Beer & Music Festival was born, and it filled the then-new Wave venue, 650 E. Second, with about 400 people on a beautiful October day.

The organizers of the event, the Kansas Craft Brewer’s Guild, decided to give the festival another go this year. They chose an earlier date — the event happens this weekend instead of in October — and booked some well-known local bands to provide the entertainment. The headliner is local favorite Split Lip Rayfield.

But the big draw, said organizer Jeremy Horn — who also is the co-owner of Wichita Brewing Company — will be the 40 Kansas brewers who will be there passing out samples of their best beers.

Among them will be nearly all the Wichita brewers, including Aero Plains, Augustino, Central Standard, Hopping Gnome, Hank is Wiser, Nortons, River City, Walnut River, Third Place and Wichita Brewing Company. Popular Kansas brewers like Radius, Free State, Defiance, Blind Tiger and Boulevard also will be there.

“We really had a good, positive vibe last year, and of course the weather helped,” Horn said. “We just put together a very good beer festival.”

This year should be even better, he said. The organizers took a full year to plan the event and were able to tie up several new sponsorships, too. They’re expecting an even bigger crowd.

The festival is scheduled for 3 to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, and Wave’s in-house restaurant, Adios Nachoria, will be open and serving nachos, tacos and more.

The beer tasting starts at 3 p.m., and music starts at 4 p.m. Five acts will take the stage throughout the afternoon, culminating with Split Lip at 9:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com. People can get a full festival pass, including music and beer, for $60, a VIP full festival pass for $70, a music-only pass for $20 and a VIP music-only pass for $30.

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Musical lineup

Here is the list of the bands performing on Saturday

Henna Roso - 4 p.m.

Pretend Friend - 6 p.m

Shamarr Allen - 7 p.m.

Banda Hispanica - 8:30 p.m.

Split Lip Rayfield - 9:30 p.m.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.