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Columbus beer fest adds frosty brew to winter season

30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, located at 400 N. High St.

What do you get when you combine more than 250 craft beers and thousands of people? Not the biggest fraternity party on campus, but rather the Columbus Winter Beerfest.

The festival will make its way back into central Ohio with a one-night stop at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, located at 400 N. High St., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“This is the fourth Beerfest in Columbus,” said Jennifer Davis, the marketing and communications manager for the Convention Center. This stop marks the second winter festival in the city.

Brewery fans aren’t the only ones excited for the event.

John Page, assistant general manager and director of operations for the convention center, said even though this isn’t one of its biggest events, Page said they enjoy hosting a show of this caliber.

“This kind of event is our bread and butter; it’s what makes us the Convention Center,” Page said.

Page said setting up for an event of this size is a little easier than events such as The Arnold Sports Festival, an annual bodybuilding and fitness event.

“The Beerfest is a good size. It’s what we call a ‘trash event,'” he said. “It’s not difficult to set up, just a matter of getting all the trash out of there.” Although the festival might not bring out as many fans as other events, Craig Johnson, organizer of the Columbus Winter Beerfest, said he expects about 6,000 people to attend. However, Johnson said the event is growing. This year they will be in a room that is 118,000 square feet.

“The first year we were in a 6,000 square-foot room,” Johnson said. “It keeps getting bigger, but we can’t reserve the whole world.”

All of the profits will be donated to the Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation. Duskin was a piano player in Cincinnati who died in 2007.

“They had just started the foundation and I had just started the Beerfest, and it seemed like a perfect fit,” Johnson said. “The sole mission is that 100 percent of funds raised go to in-school programming.”

The foundation pays professional bands to play concerts at elementary schools with the hopes of trying to spread musical interest.

VIP tickets to the Beerfest, which give fans an 8 oz. sampling glass and 25 sample tickets, can be purchased for $40 in advance or $50 the day of the show. Regular admission is $30 in advance or $40 day of show and gives fans 25 sample tickets as well as a 5 oz. sampling cup. The event opens at 7:30 p.m., but entry for VIP ticket holders opens one hour earlier.

Tickets are also available for those who don’t care to drink. The designated driver ticket opportunity offers tickets for $15 each and includes a $6 coupon to concession stands, unlimited bottled water, three soft drinks and $5 off of Beerfest souvenirs. Designated driver ticket holders are prohibited from drinking alcohol during the event.

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