Ten years ago, the Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival began as an initiative to highlight food, culture and related trends in Oxford. Now, the fundraiser has become a weekend-long event focused on craft beer, art and culture, attracting sponsors and participants from across state lines.
This year’s festival begins today and continues tomorrow. Wayne Andrews, executive of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, said the goal of the festival is to showcase Oxford.
“We want to communicate our culture, and a big way to do that is through food and drink because in the South what we eat is often linked back to history or culture,” Andrews said. “This event is a great way to bring that history and those stories out while bringing people out in the community and attracting new people to our town in a playful way.”
The weekend-long 10th annual Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival, hosted by the YAC, serves as a fundraiser and features a brewers’ banquet tonight with a beer tasting trail tomorrow afternoon, which will culminate at the Brewin’ and Groovin’ craft beer party on Saturday night.
The Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival benefits the YAC while also fostering tourism to the area.
Last year’s Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival attracted over 400 participants from Mississippi and surrounding states, raising more than $6,000 for the YAC. According to event coordinator Tore Christiansen, this year’s fundraiser is projected to be more successful and attract more out-of-state participants as a result of the increase in out-of-state brewers participating.
“We try and pull brewers from the surrounding area like Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida,” Christiansen said. “Last year we had many people travel from Tennessee and Georgia, but this year we are expecting even more.”
More than a dozen brewers are participating in the fundraiser, including newcomers Grayton Beer Company, Parish Brewing Company and Ace Craft Cider.
“The Brewers’ Banquet on Friday is the most relaxed event of the weekend. It’s the night for people to get to know the brewers and thank them for coming and donating their time and beer,” Christiansen said. “Then everyone is able to have a shrimp and catfish dinner — something Mississippi excels at which is aquaculture because they’re farm-raised fish.”
On Saturday afternoon, participants can form teams and enjoy the beer tasting trail, a scavenger hunt beginning at the Growler. The trail leads participants to different retail and restaurant locations on the Square to freely sample different beers while teams compete in different activities for the chance to win prizes.
Once the scavenger hunt ends, participants can use the Flying Tuk to travel to the Old Armory Pavilion for the Brewin’ and Groovin’ craft beer party. Alongside children’s events, parents can sample beers, listen to music, tour food trucks and participate in a chicken wing eating contest sponsored by Gus’s Fried Chicken.
“The vendors are a great way to showcase our town — the fact that we have a great Square and arts and culture and that we have these great spaces where we can gather around to have a drink, hear music and come together as a community,” Andrews said.
Cally Perkins, a senior political science and paralegal studies major, said that she plans to attend the festival.
“I’m participating in the scavenger hunt this year with friends and family because it sounds like fun,” Perkins said. “It seems like a unique way to learn more about Oxford outside of the scope of the University.”