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Organizers cancel this year's Great Tucson Beer Festival

Organizers cancel this year's Great Tucson Beer Festival

The organizers of the annual Great Tucson Beer Festival made the painful but logical decision back in February that their annual fundraising event was no longer working.

But there were some issues getting the word out that they were canceling the 2019 festival, which many people had thought was taking place at Kino Stadium next weekend.

In a Facebook posting on Monday, organizers clarified: “We keep getting asked where to purchase tickets for this year’s beer fest … due to the economy and other reasons, The Great Tucson Beer Festival board has chosen not to continue with the festival this year.”

The post was a follow-up to another Facebook post from late June in which Sun Sounds, which provides reading services to thousands of people across the state who cannot read or hold print material due to disabilities, initially publicized the cancellation.

“We have tried to get the message out,” said Sun Sounds Tucson Manager Murry Everson, who said the event has been losing steam over the past several years.

Sun Sounds launched the beer festival in 1986 initially at Hi Corbett Field. The event, staffed entirely by volunteers, brought in thousands and raised about $100,000 a year the first few years.

When the University of Arizona baseball team moved into the centrally located field in 2011, the Great Tucson Beer Festival had to move; the contract with the university included a clause that no events no matter the time of year would be held at the stadium.

So Sun Sounds moved the beer festival to Kino Stadium on the southeast side of town.

“Most people perceive Kino as a long way to go and our attendance went down and our costs went up and our profits went down,” Everson said.

That combined with increased competition from other beer-centric events nearly decimated the Tucson festival, Everson said. Last year, Sun Sounds brought in less than $25,000.

The Tucson festival is the latest casualty. Sun Sounds earlier canceled the Phoenix festival. But it still hosts a festival in Flagstaff every June that Everson said still does very well.

“They don’t have as much competition and it’s in June so people from the Valley come and spend the weekend,” he said.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch.

Cathalena has covered music for the Star for the past 20 years. She's a graduate of Arizona State University has worked at Sedona Red Rock News, Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, New York; and USA Today.

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