SKOWHEGAN — For the second straight year, specialty beer, live music and craft goods will take center stage on Water Street during the Skowhegan Craft Brew Festival on Saturday.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the festival from 3-7 p.m., said Kristina Cannon, executive director Main Street Skowhegan, the nonprofit that sponsors the event. About 600 tickets had been sold as of Thursday, she said, with people coming from as far as Canada and other parts of New England to sample offerings from 26 Maine breweries.

The festival was a huge success in its inaugural year, with more than 800 people filling the downtown. Last year’s event featured more than 20 Maine craft brewers.

While one of the festival’s goals is to promote local brewers – which include producers of hard cider, wine and spirits, as well as beer – Cannon said the event also showcases Skowhegan’s development as an agricultural food hub. Grains from the local grist mill are used by brewers and food producers across the state, and a farmers market will be part of the mix Saturday.

“We’re excited that this event will help promote Skowhegan as a destination for craft brewing and also local food,” Cannon said.

Participating breweries in the event include 2 Feet Brewing of Bangor, Baxter Brewing of Lewiston; the Atlantic Brewing Co., of Bar Harbor; as well as larger Portland-based breweries such as Allagash, Sebago and Shipyard. Attendees will get unlimited pours, but no cans, bottles or growlers will be sold.

General admission tickets are available online for $40 and at the entrance to the event for $45. Designated driver tickets cost $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event. No alcoholic drinks will be served to a designated driver. Only those 21 and older will be admitted to the festival.

Bigelow Brewing Co. in Skowhegan is participating for the second year in a row, and has brewed up a special beer just for the occasion. Colin Hoffman, the assistant brewer, said the company partnered with Noctem Artisans Brasseurs, a craft brewery based in Quebec, to make a one-of-a-kind beer for the festival. Hoffman said it was called La Saison du Labrador, a Belgian farm-style beer brewed with Labrador tea from Canada. He said it was a sweeter beer, with hints of banana and clove. They brewed about 90 gallons for the event.

Amanda Powers, whose parents own the brewery on Bigelow Hill Road, said her parents went on a cross-cultural tour last year and in Quebec met the owners of Noctem Artisans Brasseurs and developed an agreement to work together. The Canadian brewers came down two weeks ago to make this beer, she said, and at some point the Bigelow group will go up to Quebec for another partnership.

Powers said last year’s festival was a great experience, and the turnout and support for their brewery were huge.

The Saison was kegged Thursday, but Hoffman said a special blackberry wheat ale had been brewed for the VIP section of the festival, something that will not be offered during the regular hours of the festival. The VIP section, which is sold out, begins an hour earlier and has more offerings.

The food available ranges from wood-fired pizza to authentic Filipino food, chicken wings, poutine, burritos and tacos, all with an emphasis on local products.

Cannon said two bands will be playing. The Dave Mello Blues Band will start first, and later in the day the Youngerbloods will play. Cannon said local businesses will raffle off free goods, which will help promote the retailers of Skowhegan.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

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Twitter: @colinoellis