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Brewfest tickets sell out in record time - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Brewfest tickets sell out in record time

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It's the oldest beer festival in New England and brings thousands of people to Burlington's waterfront every year. But ticket sales smashed a record this year, selling out in only 11 minutes. Organizers say the good news is this crazy sellout shows the huge boom in the craft beer industry. The bad news is many people will be left out, and scalpers are already looking to turn a profit.

It took just minutes for the Vermont Brewers Festival to unload 8,400 tickets to its annual summer beer bash. And organizers say the fest attracts more beer enthusiasts every year.

"It just goes to show how incredibly popular craft beer is and just the city of Burlington and the state of Vermont, and how many people want to come here,” said Laura Streets, the producer of the Vermont Brewers Festival.

Forty-six craft breweries join forces for three sessions– one Friday and two on Saturday. Streets says there are 2,800 tickets available per session. Hopeful festivalgoers can buy tickets online or by phone, and this year they were gone in minutes.

"I follow everything on Facebook and watch numbers, so we knew it was going to go fast... didn't quite realize 11 minutes,” said Streets.

To put that in perspective, Streets says in 2011 it took two months to sell out. The year after that it was 6 weeks. Last year, tickets were gone after 36 hours. And this year that time was chopped to only 11 minutes.

Despite a high volume of internet traffic, Streets says ticket sales went smoothly. But many who tried disagreed.

"I think a lot of people had a similar experience that I did -- in the sense that you weren't really certain what was happening,” said Tyler Uhlendorff who tried to buy a ticket.

Uhlendorff says he's been looking forward to this festival and was online right after the tickets were released. The Burlington beer aficionado says the website was glitchy and kept freezing. He called looking for answers and was on hold for 18 minutes.

"So for me I was really excited to be a part of that because I have recently begun to explore the different breweries and meet local craftsman and it's fantastic. But this kind of felt like a dis-assembly of that,” Uhlendorff said.

No sooner had the festival sold out when scalpers started selling tickets on Craigslist for more than three times face value.

"Really, shame on them. I'm sorry. It's not right. They are taking money out of different people's pockets. We specifically keep the ticket price low because we want to it to be accessible,” said Streets.

Organizers say they taking a hard look at ways to keep the ticket process fair. And as the demand for tickets grow, those who missed out this year worry they'll never get in.

"If it is something you have to wait for until next year, now everyone sort of either has a bad taste in their mouth, or they are so on their toes that it's going to be even worse,” said Uhlendorff.

Organizers say they will not increase capacity for this festival, but are actively looking at other Vermont cities to create a second brewfest in the future.

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