Fredericton considers craft beer festival on the walking bridge

Beer drinkers might saunter across the Fredericton walking bridge one evening this summer, sampling the offerings of craft breweries as they go.

Sunrise Rotary Club proposes Beer on Bridge as a July fundraiser

The Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge in Fredericton could be full of craft brewers one night this summer. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Beer drinkers might saunter across the Fredericton walking bridge one evening this summer, sampling the offerings of craft breweries as they go.

The Fredericton Sunrise Rotary Club has submitted a proposal to city council for a "Beer on the Bridge" event on a  Saturday in July. 

"We hope this will be a new signature event for the city, and Sunrise Rotary," club member Ric Cuthbertson said after a recent meeting with councillors.

"We want to be able to showcase what is available here as far as the craft brewing industry."

Stations along the bridge

Vendors would set up along the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge, which crosses the St. John River.

People who buy bracelets would stop in at the various stations and try the drinks. Eight breweries have already signed up, and the club is hoping to get at least six more. 

Cuthbertson hopes the event will happen on July 7, from 5 p.m. to sunset, or about 9 p.m.

And fellow club member John Carkner doesn't think the bridge would have to be closed to people not participating in the beer event.

John Carkner thinks this could become an annual event in Fredericton. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

"We'd like it to be open so that the folks who are out for their regular Saturday afternoon, evening walk, they're not inadvertently dispossessed in anyway," Carkner said.

The group also made a presentation to the public safety committee, which had members of the police force and fire department in attendance.

Carkner said there would be safety officers at the event to watch for disorderly conduct or safety concerns on the bridge.

The bridge is 12 feet, or about 3.56 metres wide, with wood slat railings.

Not just beer

Along with craft brews, Beer on the Bridge would include food, cider and mead.

Carkner said the group wants to sell 500 bracelets to the event but said the bridge could host about 2,500 people at a time.  

"We hope to nudge up against that target but being realistic, we'll aim for 500," said Carkner.

Cuthbertson, the former Rotary president, had the thought of using the bridge for a beer festival after seeing an event in Chattanooga, Tenn., called Wine over Water, which takes place on a pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River.

It follows the same concept but with wine.

Eight vendors are already signed up to take part in Beer on the Bridge, but the event still needs the go-ahead from city council. (CBC)

Half the money from the event will go to Fredericton and Oromocto food banks. A quarter of it will go to Snap Burlesque, a non-profit partner of the Sunrise Rotary that supports animal welfare projects. The other quarter would go to Rotary.

The event isn't a sure thing yet. City staff are looking at the details now, and council will make a final call in the next few weeks.

But Carkner said the club has been given positive indications so far. 

"Everything has been very positive, not only from the city, but everybody we talk to."

About the Author

Philip Drost

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

With files from Gary Moore