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Chicago Ale Fest Bringing 100 Craft Brewers To Massive Grant Park Event

By David Matthews | January 15, 2015 1:25pm | Updated on January 16, 2015 10:56am
 The inaugural Chicago Ale Fest will kick off June 19 at Buckingham Fountain.
The inaugural Chicago Ale Fest will kick off June 19 at Buckingham Fountain.
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Flickr/Ron Cogswell

GRANT PARK — For festival lovers who prefer to drink their calories, a team of craft beer enthusiasts will host a hop-filled Taste of Chicago counterpart Downtown for the first time this summer.

The  Chicago Ale Fest will run June 19 and 20, promoter Josh Seago confirmed Thursday. The event, which received Chicago Park District approval Monday, will feature 100 brewers, including Lagunitas and Three Floyds, encircling the north end of Buckingham Fountain.

"It’s all about the atmosphere and location, and there's not much more of an iconic site in Chicago than Buckingham Fountain," said Seago, founder and president of Naperville-based Lou Dog Events

Dave Matthews discusses the festival's $50 price:

The festival is coming Downtown after two successful years in Naperville, Seago said. Last summer's Naperville Ale Fest — a one-day event — drew 4,800 visitors, he said.

Seago said he is teaming up with Windy City Wine Festival promoter InPlay Events for the ale fest. Admission will be $50 and include 20 3-ounce samples, Seago said.

Guests can purchase 10 more samples for an additional $5, he said. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Grant Park Conservancy.

The festival will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 19 and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 20. Seago said he is working on booking entertainment, which will likely include cover bands.

Seago said final City Hall approval is pending, but it appears "everyone is on board."

The Chicago Park District did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the festival.

News of the fest arrives as attendance at the annual Taste of Chicago continues to fall.

Similar craft beer festivals have been held at Soldier Field and Union Station

A former PNC and Wintrust banker, Seago said he left finance two years ago to pursue his real passion: producing events. His company is named after his black labrador, Lou. 

"I just always had a strong passion for craft beer and loved the event industry," he said. "I said, 'life is too short to be working for 'the man' forever.'"

Check out the Chicago Ale Fest website for more information. 

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