Suds, Shooting, Shopping at `Spirits of the West’ Brewsfest

Brewsfest at Big Bear Lake Convention CenterToast the hardworking American cowboy with a day of family western fun at the 5th annual Spirits of the West Brewsfest Saturday, July 22.

Held under towering pine trees at the Convention Center, the event offers free Western fun for the whole family with live action shooters, arts and crafts vendors, music all day and country dancing at night. Those 21 and over can sample more than 40 different beers and another 20-plus spirits, including whiskey, tequila and bourbon. There’s everything from flavored organic beers to IPAs at what has become the mountain’s largest sampling event.

Gates open at 1 p.m. with free admission and a full slate of activities to mark Big Bear’s western heritage that dates back to the late 1800’s, which included cattle drives up to the mountains from the deserts of Palm Springs, Morongo and Yucca basins. Temecula Action Gunfighters perform live western shootouts with heroes and villains four times during the day.

Live entertainment includes Shadow Mountain Band on the main stage, which specializes in harmonies with lively acoustic backup. Traditional mountain music and bluegrass along with eclectic originals and reworked contemporary tunes comprise what some call “Desert Grass.”

Little visitors enjoy carnival games, bounce house, face painting and western arts and crafts like horseshoe painting. Arts and crafts and collectible vendors are on hand to sell their wares. Wyatt’s Cafe & Saloon is open with the mountain’s best ranch-style grub. Try the several inch high Smokin’ Gun burger or slow roasted pulled pork platter!

Brewsfest at Big Bear Convention CenterSampling tickets are a dollar each for beers and $3 for spirits. There’s a selection of sodas for the under 21 crowd. Sampling continues till 6 p.m.

The National Day of the Cowboy organization, founded in June 2005 with official resolution passed the U.S. Senate a month later, seeks to preserve America’s cowboy heritage for future generations. Bear Valley American Legion is another beneficiary.

Wyatt’s is open Wednesdays for country dancing and “Honky Tonk” Fridays and Saturdays with live music on the patio under the pine trees. Highlights include South of Santa Fe on July 7, DJ Evan on July 8, Southern Spirit on July 14-15, Born Country on July 21 and the Working Poets on July 28.

Fridays also feature ballroom dance classes at the Convention Center from 6-7 p.m. All are welcome to learn Fox Trot, waltz, tango, samba, swing, merengue and two-step, taught by Johnny Wells for free!

Celebrate July 4 all day at the Convention Center’s weekly Tuesday Farmer’s Market. Expanded this year to include Old Fashioned Country Fair with arts, crafts, vendors, kids activities and live music.

The Convention Center is on Big Bear Blvd. at Division. Call (909) 585-3000 or bigbearevents.com.

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