Jen Heintzelman, sister of Lou Dog Events founder, Josh Seago, sort’ve fell into the whole craft beer festival thing. But now, with over twenty beer fests under her belt, she’s become a well known face amongst festival goers. She manages the front gate, handles the community aspects of the events and essentially interacts with every guest, making sure they’re having the best possible experience.
We had the pleasure of speaking with her about her involvement with craft beer, bringing a beer fest to her hometown of Rockford, IL and got some helpful pro tips on how to make the most of the fest.
Ballpark Ale Fest tickets are going fast so don’t delay…
Matt Persson: What got you interested in craft beer in the first place?
Jen Heintzelman: Probably Josh Seago, the festival founder and my brother. I haven’t attended a family function in years without him making me try a new craft beer that he’s discovered. He’s taught me to not be afraid to try new things and to focus on the subtleties of the different beers. Personally, I love the sweet crisp taste of ciders and the light, fruit infused summer beers. I’ve heard that Pollyanna’s raspberry wheat ale, Summerly, is pretty amazing. I’m also looking forward to nights around the campfire with anything created by Blake’s Hard Cider Co.
MP: What was the first Lou Dog event that you were involved in?
JH: I’ve been with Lou Dog Events since the very beginning. It started off with Josh saying “Hey, I’m doing this craft beer fest in Naperville, you wanna come help me out?” And then, twenty something fests later here we are, and I’m running the front of house for him. I love being on the front lines and seeing the crowd arrive. No matter the weather, the first guests start lining up about an hour before the gates open. I always make time to chat with the early birds and love hearing their stories – where they’re coming from, how many fests they’ve been to, what they’re most excited to sample – their anticipation and excitement is contagious. Lou Dog Events has grown a lot since that first fest and we’ve come a long way in a few short years. It’s been pretty amazing to see my big brother pursue his passion like this, and I couldn’t be more proud to be working alongside him on this journey.
Photo: PDET Photography
MP: Why a craft beer fest in Rockford?
JH: Josh and I were born and raised in Rockford, so it’s only natural for us to want to bring a fest to our hometown. We’re working with a non-profit organization called Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, and a portion of the proceeds will be going to them. It feels really good to be able to give back to the community we grew up in. We still have a lot of family and friends in the Rockford area so it’s going to be really fun to see them all at the fest!
MP: With Ballpark Ale Fest coming up in June, can you give us a summary of what the festival will be?
JH: Ballpark Ale fest is a beer centric fest at the ballpark, so we’re combining America’s favorite pastime with America’s favorite craft beers. Everyone will get 18 three ounce samples of beer and four hours to wander around, talk to brewers, eat delicious food, rock out with a live band, buy some Ballpark Ale Fest swag and a pretzel necklace, and enjoy the experience!
Photo: PDET Photography
MP: How would you say this fest stands out from all the others? I feel like there’s many beer and craft beer fests around the city.
JH: First of all, Ballpark Ale Fest will be taking place in a unique venue, being right inside the ballpark on the concourse. It’s an amazing place to experience craft beer. Second, we have some incredible beers lined up, you’re bound to find something you enjoy. Third, many brewery representatives will be there and they love to talk about beer. It’s pretty exciting to get the chance to talk to the guys and gals behind the beers that you’re sampling. Fourth, AudioDrive will be belting out some fabulous tunes. All of these things combined come together to create the perfect atmosphere for a craft beer fest.
MP: Can you give us some tips on how to make the most out of the festival?
JH: Of course! I’m going to give some very practical (i.e. boring) tips, but if you do your very best impression of your mom while reading them, it might make it more fun.
- Eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Dress appropriately! We’ve had some crazy weather this spring so be prepared for anything.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring your ticket! Seems like a no brainer but I’ve worked enough front gates to know that it warrants mentioning.
- Have a plan. Know the brewers and beers that are going to be at the fest and make a list of your must haves. Sample those first.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. These brewers really know what they’re doing and are making some amazing things. Try them! You can always dump out what you don’t like, but you’ll be surprised at what you do like!
- Have fun and enjoy the experience!
Photo: PDET Photography
Ballpark Ale Fest Rockford is a craft beer festival that combines America’s favorite pastime with America’s favorite craft beers. The inaugural fest will take place Saturday, June 04, 2016 and will feature over 80 craft beers from breweries across the country. Ballpark Ale Fest Rockford will also feature incredible food and live music. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience American craft beer at the ballpark!
Ballpark Ale Fest Rockford
Saturday, June 4th
1:00 to 5:00 pm
Rockford Rivets Stadium