I’m pretty picky when it comes to festivals. Often it seems like even though “craft beer” is advertised, it’s all big name brewers. There’s another festival that I won’t name that bills itself as a celebration of food and beer, but the beer is all imported (a sacrilege in Beer City USA) and the food is hot dogs and other carnie food.
VanderFest, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of festival I love. The cider/beer is all from Michigan makers, the food is great, and the atmosphere is definitely not “frat boy.” Everyone is friendly and seems to be there to enjoy the beer, not get drunk.
If you live in West Michigan, it’s definitely worth putting on your calendar. If you are not, it is definitely worth adding to a trip to our fine state. Spend the morning enjoying ArtPrize or driving to see the colors, and then spend the afternoon at VanderFest.
I usually skip lunch and head over to the food booths early on. Vander Mill serves great food throughout the year, and their festival offerings don’t disappoint.
The food area is cash, and the tastings are for tickets. You get eight tickets with your entry fee ($30 at the door of $25 ahead of time in 2013) and that is usually plenty.
After a late lunch it’s time for more tasting. My favorite by far was the offering by People’s Cider.
The setting is beautiful, too. It reminds me of being out in the woods at a bonfire. Except with way better food and beer than Miller Lite and hot dogs.
After sampling some more ciders it’s time for food round two (need to soak up that alcohol!)
When we needed a break from food and drink, we sat on the hill to watch some excellent local bands.
It is definitely a very satisfying celebration of fall, food, cider, and beer.