LEWISTON — It wasn’t Oktoberfest in Munich, but for Jace Pearson of Auburn, the Great Falls Brewfest was close enough for lederhosen.

“It’s brewfest! Any excuse to wear it,” Pearson said with a laugh.

An hour and a half into their tour of crowded beer tents, the 42-year-old in authentic German lederhosen and his wife, both beer fans, had sampled six of the more than 100 beers available in Simard-Payne Memorial Park on Saturday afternoon. They happily planned to keep going.

“I haven’t had one I haven’t liked,” Pearson said.

More than 1,500 people filled the park Saturday for the third annual Great Falls Brewfest, drinking, crowding around food trucks and packing into the puppy tent.

Yes. Puppy tent.

“I wanted her to see how cute they are,” said Mike McNutt of Topsham, as his wife, Katie, cuddled one of several adoptable Lab-mix puppies brought by the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. “It’s working a little bit, I think. She’s resistant to the idea of getting one. I don’t think we’re there yet.” 

“But we’re closer,” his wife admitted.

All VIP and pre-sale general admission tickets sold out before Saturday’s event. By 11 a.m., eager ticket buyers had lined up for the 50 tickets set aside for last-minute purchase.

As the crowd swelled in the afternoon, some vendors struggled to keep up with demand. At 2:30 p.m. — with still half of the event to go — barbecue food truck Fahrenheit 225 was nearly out of both cornbread and pulled pork.

“Beer and barbecue seem to go hand in hand,” said owner Al Clark of Lewiston. “It’s been crazy.”

Even vendors and businesses without puppies, cornbread or beer saw crowds. The booth for Lisbon Falls’ Blue Ox Malthouse was mobbed through the afternoon with the malt-curious and home brewers interested in buying from one of the few malt makers in Maine.

“Oh, my gosh, it’s been fantastic,” said Dawn Charnetzky, Blue Ox production assistant. “The crowds are so enthusiastic. There are so many people here. It’s just constant. People are crazy about craft brews.”

By 3 p.m., out of beer glasses and resorting to handing out plastic cups, Brew Fest organizers were already talking about next year and the fourth annual Great Falls Brewfest.

Said festival director Adam Platz: “We’re going to have a save-the-date next month.”

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