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Rails and Ales Festival brings revenue to local economy

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Keg by keg Jessica Pressman is getting ready fo the annual Rails and Ales Festival at Harris Riverfront Park Saturday. She and her husband started the festival years ago because they were tired of traveling to get the best of the brews. So, they go the best to come to the Mountain State.

“We needed to expose folks here to it in order to create a market, and we have,” Pressman said.

Jeff McKay is also an organizer for Rails and Ales and he says beer options are aplenty.

“This will be the largest list that we’ve had, beer list,” McKay said. “We’ll have nearly 300 different beers this year.”

The Rails and Ales Festival started just seven years ago with 750 people and a handful of brewers. It’s now grown to thousands of people, hundreds of brewers, bringing in people from all across the country as well as from out of the country.

“Brewery Van Steenberge right outside of Ghent, Belgium, has a new export manager for the United States, and I think, as far as I know, this is his first visit to the United States, not only just West Virginia,” McKay said.

Regardless of where people are coming from, Tyson Compton with the Huntington Area Visitors and Convention Bureau says the festival will put several hundred thousand dollars into the local economy this weekend.

“The craft beer industry is growing so quickly; every year there are new brewers – West Virginia brewers – and so there’s always something new to try and there are always new beers introduced into our market,” Pressman said.

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