Log on to the BYOB Virtual Beer & BBQ Show on Friday, June 5 or Saturday, June 6 to enjoy some food and drink while supporting local breweries and businesses.

The eighth annual Western Fair District Beer & BBQ Show is going to look slightly different thanks to COVID-19. An event well-known for its sampling of both beer and food, the online event is full of interactive programming, but with a “bring your own” approach to the beer and bbq. 

The 2020 edition takes place online on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6, beginning at 7 pm both nights. You can buy a ticket for either night and enjoy 1.5 hours of interactive content, including virtual brewery tours, trivia, beer education, cooking demonstrations, and more. The proceeds from the event will go towards helping small businesses in the Old East Village. 

Moving Online

Trying to make a virtual event with the same level of experience as the in-person event was a big challenge, says Bridget Mahon​, Events Manager at Western Fair District. But the Western Fair District and the small businesses involved in the event were up for the task. 

Beer & BBQ Show
The annual Beer & BBQ show has moved online in response to COVID-19. / Image via Western Fair District.

“We wanted an event where you could still engage with the people attending and engage with the presenters,” said Mahon. “You get a little bit of education; you get a lot of entertainment. We really tried to structure our virtual event around that. So it’s not just a Youtube video where you’re going to sit around and watch for an hour and a half. It’s continually engaging you to try to keep that energy and that sense of community going.”

Each night there will be two or three virtual brewery tours, a Q&A with local brewers, a philosophical beer discussion, a digital BBQ beer marinade demonstration with the Western Fair District’s in-house chef, and a cooking show with local radio host Jay Stevens. 

Plus, hosts Mike Fish, Western Fair’s in-house sommelier and beer expert and Western Fair Raceway’s Rob Lumsden, will keep the laughs going throughout the event. Add in trivia, polls, and quizzes (and prizes!) to keep you guessing and engaged all evening, and you’ll be glad you logged on.


Bring Your Own Local Brews

The “Bring Your Own Beer” aspect of the event does require some planning ahead. Thankfully, many local breweries are offering delivery and curbside pick up or are available in your local LCBO or The Beer Store. 

In addition to learning about beer and bbq, the event is an opportunity to support local breweries and businesses. London and the surrounding areas are lucky to have some pretty incredible craft breweries. Participating Beer & BBQ Show breweries include London’s Anderson Craft Ales, Forked River Brewing, London Brewing Co-Op, and Powerhouse Brewing, St. Thomas’ Caps Off Brewing Co., and Muskoka’s Lake of Bays Brewing Company. Instructions on how and where to purchase from each of these breweries are available on the BYOB Virtual Beer & BBQ Show’s website.

You can pick up a variety of beers to sip on, matching your beer to the brewery tour. Though part of the benefit of being in your own home is that no one will judge (or know) if you’re drinking an Anderson Ale during the London Brewing tour — or if you’re in your pyjamas while doing so.

Supporting Local

Profits from the $5 registration fee for the event will go right back into the community. The Western Fair District, located in London’s Old East Village, has selected the Old East Village Business Improvement Area as the beneficiary of proceeds. 

The funds raised will provide digital marketing support to local businesses in the neighbourhood. “We were looking to have the profits of the event go back to local businesses. Working with the Old East Village BIA was really the best way to do that, so more than one business could be helped,” said Mahon. “Normally, the businesses in this area would be seeing a lot more people with our events going on. So we hopefully want to help out the local business community around the Western Fair.”


Beer & BBQ Show will benefit small businesses in Old East Village.
Beer & BBQ Show will benefit small businesses in Old East Village. / Photo via Twitter.

The Old East Village BIA works with local businesses in the community to provide assistance, services, and programs. “We are thrilled that the Western Fair has provided an opportunity for the Old East Village BIA to develop a digital marketing fund to support businesses in promoting themselves and the area as we look forward to recovery,” said Jennifer Pastorius, Manager of the Old East Village BIA “ The Beer & BBQ Show this year will be a brand new experience while at the same time creating new marketing opportunities for local small businesses. It really is a win-win.”

Get Your Tickets Today

Attendees can buy tickets up until 4 pm on the day of the event. And with different tours each night, you may want to consider signing up for both nights. Once you purchase your ticket, you will receive a link in your inbox with directions on how to participate. 

Learn more about the event and buy tickets on the BYOB Virtual Beer & BBQ Show’s website.

Feature photo by Michael Del Vecchio


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