Tell Us Your Story - Cheers Caledon-Craft Beer and Cider Festival

Tell Us Your Story - Cheers Caledon-Craft Beer and Cider Festival

Event: Cheers Caledon-Craft Beer and Cider Festival
Date: Friday June 15, 2018

The Story:
Craft cider and beer are increasing in popularity within Ontario. Our small, local craft beer and cider makers have limited options to sell their products so Cheers Caledon gives them the chance to shine alongside better known brands.

This was our second year running the event. For our first year we hoped to sell at least 800 tickets and attendance on the night was about 1,200. This year our attendance was more than 1,700. Our post event survey returned a 13% response rate. People thought highly of the event with 83% saying it was very good or excellent. We were very pleased to see that 43% were return visitors and 88% of those surveyed this time said they were extremely (61%) or very (27%) likely to return.
This event really gives our local brewers and food producers chance to shine. Last year we had four local producers, this year we had five. What we learned from last year was that food is a very important component of the craft beer and cider festival. We had more local food providers this year but our biggest post-event comment was that people wanted still more food offerings, which is a big challenge. We started securing food vendors much earlier this year but we have learned that they must be secured even earlier still.

Another important thing we learned was the power of social media. We partnered with a branding and marketing company to grow the profile on social media, particularly new for the Town on Instagram. The first year, we created a unique Cheers Caledon Instagram account, which gained 134 followers, and found 53 posts using the #CheersCaledon hashtag. This account not only provided pictures but also featured video of the Caledon producers, highlighting local makers, and personal stories. About a third of people heard about our first year event through social media. This year, about a third again heard about it through social media and another third through word of mouth. We used some paid social media this time. For a small investment, our Facebook video reached 22,044 people with 13,760 views and 13 shares.

As far as community impact goes, we have held a free community festival on the Saturday afternoon for the last 12 years. Last year we introduced the craft beer and cider festival to complement and enhance the free component. However, it wasn’t viewed as a weekend event as there was nothing in the morning. This year we issued a request for proposals to run a cycling event on the Saturday morning. A community organization stepped up and we were successful in branding the whole weekend under #celebratecaledon, with the craft beer & cider Friday night, and the cycle ride Saturday morning, which was timed to end as the free festival started. This produced more of a weekend feel to the festival. It really did give a fabulous sense of community pride in showcasing the local brewers and food producers, and giving the community a first class experience. Sadly, our tourism impact was not as strong as we would have liked and although people came from more than 40km away, only four who answered the survey said they stayed overnight and they stayed with friends/relatives.

Susan Gallimore
Tourism & Community Development Officer
Economic Development, Tourism & Culture
Strategic Initiatives