by Liz Allen
As far as invasions go, last Friday night’s craft beer invasion on Congress Street seemed more like a homecoming. Jacksonians packed the brick street for the 8th annual version of Oktoberfest-turned-street festival.
The clamoring and consistently-packed lines for Lucky Town Ballistic Blonde, Lazy Magnolia Black Creek, or a Yalobusha Low Down Wheat (among other regional favorites) prove that not only does Jackson have a taste for craft brewed beer, but also pride for its relatively new local products. Prior to July 2012, Mississippi’s alcohol laws prohibited beer above 5 percent alcohol—outlawing about one third of all beer styles, especially craft beers. Before that bill passed, only Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company called Mississippi home; now it hosts seven breweries across the state. The crowds that emptied 86 kegs Friday night seem to indicate that Jackson is making up for lost time.
While beer is definitely the star of the show, with the craft beer competition and over a dozen beers on tap, Jacktoberfest isn’t just for sitting and drinking. With live bands all day, Jacktoberfest also brought the energy of a street festival. As the evening wore on, the festival became full-on concert. Local bands such as Young Valley took the stage, followed by Atlanta-based R&B-influenced The Shadowboxers, and Seryn kept the street full until midnight (an hour past when the festival supposedly ended). Adam Hoffman, guitarist for The Shadowboxers, remarked that he was surprised by the energy of the Jackson audience. We’ve played beer festivals before and it was mainly older guys drinking and not really paying attention to us; they were just there for the beer,” Hoffman said.
Jacktoberfest has managed to bring both elements: beer and bands for a rollicking street festival. But most of all, it proves that if Jacktoberfest is a craft beer invasion, it is one Jackson has been waiting for, and it is here to stay.