WATERVLIET — Beer and music. Almost a classic pairing.
That’s what the founders of Arcfest, a new music festival this Saturday at Arclight Brewing Company in Watervliet, thought.
“They had the infrastructure, and I had the knowledge of the music industry,” said Michael Kunik, Arcfest co-founder. “It just seemed aligned. We didn’t even bat an eye. We were going to do this within 10 minutes of meeting.”
Kunik met Dave Coyle, co-founder and owner of Arclight, through a mutual friend one night at a brewery in Chicago.
“I said I always wanted to do a music festival, but not being in the business, I didn’t have the expertise to pull it off,” Coyle said. “We work well together, and he’s done a great job of getting all the bands and everything.”
Headlining the event is Ryley Walker. Joining him are Dehd, Wild Pink, Dream Version, The Baby Magic, Cowboy Jesus and the Sugar Bums, and DJ Dan Steely.
Kunik said for this event he wanted to give a platform to some bands from around the country and the Midwest that are at the forefront of their genres.
“They are national and international acts. These are bands that are just pushing the boundaries,” he said. “It’s exciting to have them available to take this show in the middle of nowhere and for what we could pay.”
Coyle said the music stage will go up behind the brewery building in a space it hasn’t utilized before.
“We’re putting up a fence back there so it will become a permanent space where people can play Frisbee and hang out,” he said. “This was a good reason to get that project done.”
Arclight opened in downtown Watervliet in 2014.
Coyle said, being known for their sour beers, combining the music with the release of a special sour beer was a no-brainer.
“Our black raspberry has been popular, so we’re doing a red raspberry,” he said. “We’re also working on two collaborations for the event: a double new England IPA with Wax Wings in Kalamazoo, and a pina colada Berliner weisse with Three Blondes in South Haven.”
Other than the beer and the music, the event will feature food trucks from Motor Mouth BBQ in Paw Paw and The Blackbird Waterhouse in Coloma.
“We’re also bringing in some artisans and some other food stuffs that are still being finalized,” Kunik said. “Everything is local, within a two-hour drive, and there is only one band not from the region.”
Coyle said Arcfest will be the biggest event he’s hosted at the brewery.
“And the very first event we’ve used the back area of our property,” he said. “We hope it’s a relaxing day and good beer, and it gets bigger and bigger every year.”
Kunik agreed, adding he hopes it reaches a national scale eventually that represents this region.
“We had to learn a lot about logistics, staging, security, sound people and promotions,” Kunik said. “We don’t have any corporate sponsors. We’re just doing it because we want to. It’s an opportunity to kick off a special new thing for the region. We gotta get through year one now.”
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