Medina Journal-Register — Participants in next weekend’s fifth annual Ale In Autumn in downtown Medina will have 30 beers to sample at a total of 28 different stops.
The signs for this year’s Ale In Autumn advertise “31 beers, 29 stops” but due to unforeseen circumstances one participating business was forced to back out of the event at the last minute.
The event, sponsored by the Medina Business Association, has sold out its allotment of 750 tickets in the past couple years.
Many who attend do so from outside the area and MBA President Cindy Robinson said their attendance is a testament to the event’s uniqueness.
“You’re not just showing up at a big hall for a tasting; you’re wandering around a historic downtown area, seeing old and new businesses and seeing what everyone has to offer,” Robinson said. “As you do that you run into people you might have gone to school with or haven’t seen in a while. I’ve witnessed a lot of conversations like that.”
Robinson said Ale In Autumn and its colder sister Wine About Winter, started after the MBA heard of something similar elsewhere.
“We saw it at a seminar and took the idea from another state because we thought it would work here,” Robinson said. “We made it our own, and we know of other communities that have done the same thing and that’s great.”
Medina’s downtown layout is part of the reason for the event’s success, as the business district has many active storefronts in a small area, comparatively speaking.
Robinson said each participating business is required to have a permit from the New York State Liquor Authority. After the first couple years of running the event, the MBA streamlined the process and now those who participate know what to do and when to do it.
“We know what we want, we know when we need them, and we try to make it as convenient as possible for those of us who participate and for the liquor authority, too,” she said.
As Ale In Autumn enters its fifth year, Robinson said it has handled expanding itself well, constantly drawing from all over Western New York, and in some cases from across the country.
“I know of one family that planned a family reunion around the event,” she recalled. “They had people come from California, from Texas, and they did the beer tasting as a family.”
Another story Robinson relayed was one of one woman who hosted her own private tasting after participating in Ale In Autumn.
“She told me how she went to Angotti’s in Rochester, got 12 different beers, and then did a tasting at a family event because she had fun at our event,” Robinson said.
With 28 stops on this year’s walk, the event seems to have plateaued in terms of number of businesses and organizations participating, but there is “always room for expansion,” Robinson noted.
“We’re sticking to the same of number of tickets for now,” she said. “We want to make sure we have it completely down pat before we start selling more tickets, and right now we all seem to be comfortable with 750.”
Robinson noted that some people have suggested making the event a two-day affair with at least 1,000 tickets available, but she said that the MBA also wants to make sure that the participating business are not “overwhelmed” by such a drastic increase in foot traffic.
Along with the businesses, Robinson said the Medina Police Department has also been “awesome” to work with during the festivities. “They’re out there patrolling, and I’ve checked with them after each event and we haven’t had any issues so far.”
Unlike the event’s first few years, several other happenings are slated for Saturday, Sept. 28. Earlier in the morning, the first-ever Medina Mud Run will take place. During the afternoon, one of the stops on the Ale in Autumn walk - the Medina Railroad Museum, a new addition this year - will host Accordion Fest. Indeed, it will be a busy day with many visitors will descend on the community.
A limited number of tickets for Ale in Autumn are still available at Ashlee’s Place in Medina, East Center Street Stop ‘N Shop, the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce and online at www.aleinatumn.org. A commemorative 12-oz. pilsner glass can be picked up to start the event next door the English Rose Tea Shoppe in Medina. Glasses must be empty before leaving each tasting location, as Robinson noted that “open container laws are still in effect.”
Ale in Autumn tickets are $15 and allow tasters the chance to wander downtown from 3 to 7 p.m. VIP tickets, which are only available at Ashlee’s Place and online, are $20 and let revelers start at 2 p.m. Participating businesses also have baskets to raffle off, with the tickets for sale at the start of the walk.