Words and photos by Emily Anderson
It was a chilly, rainy day in late August when Canal Park hosted the third annual Ballpark Festival of Beers, sponsored by Goose Island Brewing Co. It was the kind of day that makes you want to stay inside and mourn the end of summer, but I put on my leggings and boots and went out to join a few hundred other Akronites to raise my glass to fall and celebrate the incredible summer we had here in Northeast Ohio.
The weather was perfect, considering the fact that many of the beers being offered from the 40+ breweries in attendance were fall seasonals. Upon entry, each person was given a sampling glass and 25 drink tickets. 25 is a lot of samples to try—especially with the generous pours they were handing out. It didn’t take long for the crowd to catch a buzz. All of our favorite Ohio breweries were there, showcasing their seasonals and year-round favorites. Some of my favorite pumpkin beers were Blue Point Pumpkin and Fat Head’s Spooky Tooth. Oktoberfest beers were also abundant—I tried as many as I could but I ended up liking my old favorite the best, Barktoberfest from Thirsty Dog.
What made this beer festival stand out from others, besides being held in the Ballpark, was all the different things to do once you got there. The Tabloid Twangers were playing classic rock and upbeat tunes at the far end of the park. They had a cornhole game set up in one corner and a dunking tank in another. The Indians game was playing on the big screen. The Rubber Ducks’ Eastern League trophy was on display for photos. There was a lot of food available—Wholly Frijoles food truck was there, and the park had several of their concession stands open. Pretzel necklaces were on sale to support Akron Children’s Hospital.
My favorite about this day was the enormous amount of pride in the air. I saw countless people wearing Cavaliers World Champions shirts, cheering as they watched the playoff-bound Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers on the Jumbotron, all in the home of Rubber Ducks, Eastern League Champions. People were making toasts and high-fiving each other like it was going out of style. I loved every minute of it.