Tyler Johnson, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (June 21, 2021) – Bunning Park was the place to be at on Saturday. Thousands of people showed up from all over to sip on some craft brews, mingle and listen to live music at the Sweetwater Blues N’ Brews.
Since the 2020 Blues N’ Brews festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone was thrilled to get back out there and hang out with one another.
“I think, most importantly, this year, it’s nice to see people out again after what everyone dealt with last year. This is a huge event for not only for the community, but it’s a huge fundraiser for downtown. As a lot of people know, Larry and I are big proponents of what happens in the city, especially in downtown,” said Mike Hulen, co-owner of Square State Brewing.
Larry Hickerson, co-owner Square State and Rock Springs City Councilman for Ward III, agreed with Hulen 100%.
“The communal feeling when you go to things like this are just tremendous and valuable,” Hickerson said. “For us to be able to support stuff like the URA, I think the benefits are pretty good. It’s just great to hang out with the other small businesses.”
Paul Roper, owner of Bad Joker Brewing, had his booth at Blues N’ Brews for the first time ever. He opened his brewery on Dec. 31, 2019.
“We were super sad we missed it last year. With being a new brewery, you look forward to the summer so you can get out there and talk to people,” Roper said.
“Our one-year anniversary was on the 31st of December. It was supposed to be good New Year’s. It didn’t work out because of all the restrictions, so it just feels good to finally be out here with other people who do what we do. It’s awesome.”
He said that the first two months of business were tremendous. When COVID-19 hit, it slowed down. Roper is thankful for the community’s support and willingness to #KeepLocalAlive.
“We have a great community. They weren’t going to let local die,” he said. “They came out and supported us. They kept local alive.”
How does Roper feel when he sees people enjoying his craft brew?
“It warms my heart. It feels good,” he said. “People want to drink what I make and that’s good!”
Chad Banks, Rock Springs URA Director and Wyoming State Representative for District 17, said that from start to finish it was hectic.
“This is the first year where we’ve sold events tickets and we just had huge numbers. It’s been busy as heck, it’s a beautiful day, the weather is just perfect. It’s great,” he said.
“We really promoted this heavily regionally. We have regional brewers from Colorado, Idaho, Utah and, obviously, our local breweries as well. We have visitors from all over.”