AleFest still looking for a venue, may have to skip 2017 event

AleFest, the Dayton area's largest beer festival, is still looking for a venue for its 19th annual event this year, and may be forced to skip 2017 if a suitable location isn't found soon, one of its organizers says.

The uncertainty over this year’s event comes as organizers are taking steps to ensure AleFest’s long-term viability by transforming the event into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, according to Jennifer Dean, co-organizer of AleFest events since 2014. Such a move would make sponsorships — and, potentially, a portion of attendees’ ticket cost — tax-deductible, and would make it easier to obtain liquor licenses and partner with other local non-profit agencies, Dean said.

Previously, a handful of non-profit organizations received a portion of the proceeds of AleFest events, but the AleFest itself was not set up as a non-profit organization.

Unlike the currently homeless AleFest, its companion beer event dubbed “AleFeast,” held in the winter, is not in danger of skipping a year, and is in fact already scheduled for the Dayton Masonic Center on the first Saturday in February of 2018, Dean said.

RELATED: AleFest Dayton to move downtown (February 2015)

But the outdoor AleFest has bounced around in recent years after a leasing dispute ended an 11-year run at Dayton History's Carillon Park after the 2013 event. The 2014 AleFest was held in the Wegerzyn Gardens Metropark before Dean and former co-organizer Amanda Pond moved the festival downtown to Dave Hall Plaza for the 2015 and 2016 events.

But that downtown Dayton venue is no longer available because of preliminary work related to Levitt Pavilion Dayton, which will be built on Dave Hall Plaza.

RELATED: AleFest changes venue after 11 years (July 2014)

“It’s a big challenge to find a venue, but the intent is to still have it,” said Dean, who is also the co-owner of Mudlick Taphouse in Germantown and the co-founder of the Mudlick Taphouse Dayton gastropub that is gearing up to open at 135 E. Second St. in downtown Dayton.

Plans call for Joe Waizmann — the founder of AleFest and co-founder and president of Warped Wing Brewing Company — to serve on the board that oversees the non-profit organization after it is formed, Dean said.

Waizmann said this afternoon, March 24, that he retains an ownership position in the event, and said he and others “are working fast and furiously to locate an alternative venue” for AleFest — preferably one that it could call home for an extended period.

“I’m optimistic the AleFest will happen on the scheduled date of Aug. 26,” Waizmann said.

RELATED: SNEAK PEEK inside the new Mudlick Tap House in Dayton

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