The Saratoga Sun -

Brewfest gets some 'shade'

Wedding, memorial service and eclipse give brewfest competition for hotel room availability


A large wedding, a memorial service and a rare astronomical event—a total solar eclipse—could be a boon or a bust for organizers of the 23rd annual Steinley Cup, Saratoga’s microbrew beer fest, which will be held Aug. 19 in Saratoga.

Stacy Crimmins, CEO of the Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce, told members of the Saratoga Town Council Tuesday that innkeepers in Saratoga have been reporting since fall that they are about 95 percent booked that weekend due to the wedding and the memorial service, meaning many loyal visitors to the event might have difficulty finding lodging.

But, the solar eclipse that will be happening that weekend will draw thousands to the state and that, Crimmins hopes, might allow Saratoga to draw a crowd to the Valley for the brewing event.

The eclipse will be visible Monday, Aug. 21, in a band across the state’s midsection, with the cities of Casper and Jackson being almost perfectly in the path of the eclipse, according to a map provided by NASA. During the full solar eclipse, the city of Casper will go dark for almost three minutes on the afternoon of Aug. 21.

Hotels in Casper are booked solid, Crimmins said, and many people are booking rooms in cities outside the eclipse area like Rawlins and Laramie to be within driving distance of the prime viewing area.

Crimmins said the confluence of events has meant organizers of the Steinley Cup have had to change their marketing strategy. While organizers hope to draw in patrons loyal to the event, they will also be shifting marketing activities to the towns of Rawlins and Laramie, where a lot of eclipse-watchers who cannot get rooms in Casper will be staying.

“We want to focus on those because we’re not sure we’ll have hotel rooms,” she said. “We are hoping we can keep our numbers up for attending the event with people who don’t necessarily need to stay the night—they’ve already got their room in Rawlins or are within driving distance.”

Since the eclipse is Monday, the hope is some visitors staying in nearby towns within driving distance of Saratoga will be enticed to come down and visit during the Steinley Cup, Crimmins said. Though, Crimmins acknowledged it was possible attendance this year could be down. Towns in the path of the eclipse like Casper are planning events for the entire weekend she said, and the difficulty getting rooms in Saratoga could be an issue for other visitors.

Crimmins said she hopes more visitors might take the opportunity to camp nearby.

Council member Will Faust asked Crimmins if the Chamber had considered changing the weekend of this year’s Steinley Cup. Organizers had discussed that, she said, but decided to leave the event on the same weekend it has been held for the last 22 years to not lose loyal visitors and maintain the event’s momentum.

“We have had the third weekend in August since practically the beginning of this event and all the other events across the state as far as brew festivals have picked their weekend.” Crimmins said. “If we move off our weekend, we’ll infringe on them.

“We don’t want to have that happen.”

“Maybe we aren’t going to have a great crowd (this year),” Crimmins said. “But we’ve also been thinking about ‘what if we have a way more people than we usually do?’”


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