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    Q&A with Jeff Norman, Kennett Brewfest Founder

    Next month, on September 30, the Kennett Brewfest will celebrate its 20th anniversary! This landmark event in town is one of our favorite days of the year, and my husband and I have been attending for 7 years. We can’t wait!

     

    However, 7 years is nothing compared to the longtime efforts of Jeff Norman, local architect and lead chairperson of the Kennett Brewfest since its inception in 1998! A few years ago, we chatted with Jeff about how the Kennett Brewfest came to be, and we’re excited to catch up with him to talk about 20 years of the Brewfest.

    Jeff Norman, Brewfest lead chairperson, and Doug Harris, owner of State & Union (photo credit: Historic Kennett Square)

    Q. Congratulations on 20 years of the Kennett Brewfest! Why do you think the Brewfest has such enduring appeal in Kennett Square?
    A.
    We really were one of the very first beer festivals in the mid-Atlantic region that was not run and sponsored by a brewery or some other beer-related entity. It has become an event that the town can call its own, and I hope that all attending feel a sense of ownership because events like this invigorate a small thriving town and community. This could have been a very hard sell 20 years ago, but everyone from borough government to merchants and residents embraced this “new” idea. People love the Kennett Brewfest because of Kennett Square – I would never imagine it is the other way around.

     

    Q. What can Brewfest attendees expect for the 20th year?
    A.
    This year we will have 50 breweries attend our famous Connoisseur Session. Frankly, we could have more as the breweries really love doing this “event within the event.” We have moved it to a different location on the site to allow for better ease of movement. Also, there will be 110 total breweries for the day, of which close to 30 are first-time attendees.

    There will be multiple music acts, as well as a food truck court to complement our other food vendors. Plus, we are offering a variety of very interesting raffle opportunities throughout the day.

     

    Q. The Kennett Brewfest recently won the 2017 Philly Beer Scene award for Best Festival of the Year! What does this recognition mean to you and the Brewfest team?
    A.
    It is very humbling for me personally. My wife Lori and I are the only two people that have attended all 19 Kennett Brewfests so far, so I certainly understand what it takes for this event to be successful, and we have the best. Our organizing committee and volunteers are second to none. The award is voted on by everyone who loves beer, from the brewers, distributors, industry folks and patrons. To be recognized is validation of  the hard work and planning everyone associated with the Brewfest does each year. And now it means we have to keep improving!

    Left to right: Jeff Norman and his family at the 2017 Philly Beer Scene Awards (photo credit: Stephen Lyford), Special edition glass for Connoisseur Session attendees (photo credit: Historic Kennett Square), Greg and me at last year’s Brewfest

    Q. What’s your favorite part about working on the Brewfest every year?
    A.
    Seriously, it’s the entire day. Seeing first-time brewers and patrons having a great time, knowing they will return, meeting with folks that attend year in and year out and have become our friends and advocates of the fest! It really doesn’t get better than that.

     

    Q. What would you say to anyone who’s thought about attending and might be on the fence this time?
    A.
    No event endures for 20 years by being a bad time. We are confident that the Kennett Brewfest will be the most fun you can have in the region on September 30, and it benefits a great organization to boot, Historic Kennett Square. Where else can you sample from over 200 beers, eat bacon on a stick, wash down a few oysters, listen to great rock and roll, produce fantastic creative pretzel necklaces, and hang with your best friends in one of America’s coolest small towns?