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Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival returns to Atlantic City
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Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival returns to Atlantic City

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ATLANTIC CITY — “Excited” was the word on everyone’s lips this weekend as more than 15,000 people arrived at Bader Field to celebrate the return of the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival and pre-pandemic life.

“I’m just looking forward to the people being here, everyone in the same place having a good time,” said 39-year-old Jonathan Stone, of Warrenton, Virginia. “It’s been too long since we’ve been able to do something like this.”

Stone, who was dressed as Duffman from “The Simpsons,” ran the Hops Trot 5K before being granted early access to the 127 breweries that lined the asphalt runways of the former airport: a new, COVID-friendly venue for the 16th festival, which usually takes place at the Atlantic City Convention Center. That space is still being used as a vaccination mega site for the next two weeks.

The 2020 beer festival was rescheduled to August then canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 festival is not just the first large-scale event in Atlantic City since many COVID-19 restrictions were lifted late last month, organizer Jon Henderson said — it’s the first in New Jersey.

In three sessions over two days, the festival welcomed more than 15,000 people to Bader Field, said Henderson, owner of Good Time Tricycle Productions, which produces the event. The two sessions on Saturday were both nearly sold out.

“It’s encouraging to see so many people come out,” he said. “We were slightly nervous about being the first out the gate.”

He said his favorite thing about planning this year’s festival was the confidence from supporters, especially how many did not ask for a 2020 refund, instead opting to keep their tickets to use at the 2021 event.

Planning for such a large event during a pandemic was a gamble, but Henderson said he was closely following information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as statewide case counts and vaccination rates. He said he was confident that Memorial Day weekend would be a turning point in the pandemic. And it was.

But Henderson said he also knows that luck was on his side this weekend, despite a brief but strong thunderstorm that rolled through Friday evening at the start of the first session. Festivalgoers were undeterred.

Shawn Gorman, originally from Brigantine and now living in Philadelphia, was helping man the table for the Atlantic City Beard and Mustache Club. They, like the hundreds of vendors, had set up earlier in the day Friday, only to pack up to protect their products during the downpour before setting back up a second time.

“Everybody has missed it. Everybody is itching to get out and do something, something different,” said Gorman, 37. “Restaurants have started to open, but this is a different atmosphere.”

Meredith and Orlando Cachuela, of Swedesboro, Gloucester County, have come to the festival for six years, they said. The couple run a blog and were decked out in costumes — Meredith like a mug of beer and Orlando in lederhosen.

“We have a group of us ... and we look for the best breweries, beer fests and brewpubs in South Jersey,” Meredith Cachuela said.

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Before the gates opened Saturday morning, MJ Cook, regional sales manager for Atlantic City Brewing Co. at Tun Tavern, was setting up her tent. She said even in Friday’s rain, opening night was “awesome.”

“I think that we’re going to be extremely busy today,” Cook said.

The earliest heat wave since 2010 will start Saturday for the mainland, as the combination of southwest winds and strong June sun pump temperatures into the 90s here through next week. For the shore, expect beach relief a few days, though strong offshore will pin it back Saturday.

Henderson said the festival was set up with COVID-19 in mind. In addition to the refillable 2-ounce mugs attendees receive to taste the beers, disposal cups were also available. Cup washing and hand sanitizing stations were set up throughout the venue.

AtlantiCare set up a pre-festival COVID-19 vaccination site at Bader Field, and anyone who took advantage of the opportunity received early entry up to 30 minutes.

Mayor Marty Small Sr. joined Henderson for the start of Session 2 Saturday at noon, welcoming attendees to the city.

At the main gate, attendees eagerly lined up as they usually do, waiting for the festival to open. At one point, a collective moan broke out when a tractor pushing a pallet of kegs dropped one.

Jackie and Jason Golden, of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, said this was their first year at the beer fest. They were supposed to come to last year’s canceled event.

“This is perfect,” they said of the new space.

Bettina Rodriguez, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who ran the Hops Trot with a group dressed as popular characters from the 1980s, said this is her third time coming to the festival.

“Summer outside, you can’t beat it,” she said.

The brewers were happy to be back in the action.

“It’s just to be able to do stuff like this again,” said Tadhg Campbell, co-owner of Slack Tide Brewing Company in Dennis Township. “People went through a lot in the last year, and it’s nice to have the camaraderie of a beer fest.”

Rob Callaghan, sales manager for Tuckahoe Brewing Co. in Egg Harbor Township, said they have been waiting a long time to do a live event again.

“Last night was awesome,” he said. “People just enjoyed themselves so much. ... We can resume normal.”

PHOTOS from the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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Jonathan Stone, of Warrenton, Virginia, approaches the Hops Trot finish line dressed as Duffman from “The Simpsons.” Hops Trot runners get ear…

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

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Bobo Delaney, of Chatham, Morris County, and Claudia Mullett, of Madison, Morris County, take a picture by the large sand sculpture made for t…

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Ray Blaker, left, of Egg Harbor Township, and Michelle Kaas, of Upper Township, finish the Hops Trot 5K at Bader Field.

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On June 5 2021, the annual Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest, held at Bader Field, is the city's first big event since the COVID-19 pandemic s…

Contact Claire Lowe:

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clowe@pressofac.com

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