Vancouver Spring Brewfest Canceled over Coronavirus Concerns

Vancouver, Washington’s largest beer festival was set to hold their Spring Brewfest in Esther Short Park this April but today canceled the event. Organizer/owner Cody Gray sighted concerns over the Coronavirus effecting attendance and has instead decided to focus on the Summer Vancouver Brewfest in August. But is this a savvy move or a negative indicator for Coronavirus’s looming effect on the beer industry?

“With all the uncertainty and some countries closing schools, some countries limiting public gatherings to less than 1,000 (Switzerland just announced this morning), and the limited fundraising that takes place at spring I had to make a decision since we are only 45 days out,” said Gray in an email. “Currently we have incurred very minimal costs attributed to Spring but if we continued much longer those would quickly pile up. The most we have been able to raise at spring is $7,500 because we only get about half the attendance as the summer for multiple reasons. I don’t want to lose the charity money we have in the bank and it seems the risk far outweighs the potential reward.”

Cody Gray presents a check from the Vancouver Brewfest to Disabled American Veterans 

It’s a scary time for business and large events, and it leaves us wondering if other beer festivals will take similar precautions. Oregon so far has no confirmed cases of Coronavirus aka COVID-19 and Washington has just one case in Snohomish County. (UPDATE: Washington now has 2 new Coronavirus cases and Oregon has 1). This leaves many questions regarding why it was necessary to cancel the festival and if the decision will have a chilling effect on the craft beer business by stoking fears that keep customers away.

Gray says that the risk is too high and he may be proven right if spread of the virus moves to the west coast.

“Any decline in attendance would put us in negative territory and it’s simply not worth it to everyone involved, but mostly my mental health to lose money at a charity event,” says Gray.

Gray is moving on to get an early start on the Vancouver Summer Brewfest in August with hopes the virus will be contained by then. By this summer we could be looking at a larger outbreak of Coronavirus, or with any luck be looking at containment and a vaccine.

“I’m assuming the Corona virus concerns will be over by then so we can continue to support some great local charities through this event August 7-8,” says Gray.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: