Attending the Boonville Beer Festival

And once again the festival season is upon us. As one of the people that helps put on the Boonville Beer Festival and a hard core Beer Geek (or as I prefer to be called a socially challenged beer enthusiast), who better to give you a few tips on attending The Boonville Beer Festival.

As any boy scout will tell you preparation is everything. In this festive season there is no way to prepare for all eventualities, but, there are a few things that you can do to insure a more pleasant Boonville Beer Festival.


The first and foremost of things to do is procure a safe and secure place of lodging. I’m not talking about that hedge behind the park like you found when you were 19, but a hotel, gasthaus, bed and breakfast or official camp site.  This will be a home base for you.  A place where you can safely store your stuff, meet your comrades and return to at the end of the day’s festivities. It will be a temporary sanctuary for you, a home away from home.

If you want a hotel room you need to make reservations yesterday. Boonville (and the Anderson Valley) is small and it has but a few lodging establishments and most of those sell out early. (check here: under lodging). There are inns as well as other options in the valley, check them all out – keep in mind that closer is better. Walking is always better than driving on this weekend.

Should there be no room at the inns, never fear there are several camp grounds nearby (Check here under camping).

I like Hendy Woods ( or Indian Creek. But the bulk of people camp at the Boonville County Fairgrounds next to the festival – it is close, convenient and it gives you ample opportunity to meet new people and make new friends (but be warned it is not quiet and peaceful like other campgrounds).

There is a free bus (donations welcome) that makes loops from the Beer Festival to Hendy Woods (and stops at all points needed in between) on the Saturday of the beer festival. And remember either walk or use a designated driver – because if you are intoxicated you almost certainly WILL get pulled over by the plethora of police that patrol the roads.  And DUIs are not cool (in any way)

Getting There

For the lucky few: Boonville has an air strip (check here under airport). But for most of us this is not an option (since there are no commercial flights). Driving is your best option to get to Boonville. Be warned the roads are curvy, the shoulders narrow, the drop offs precipitous. Drive to conditions and bring Dramamine (esp if you are a passenger).  There are Bus transports from SF: and there is also the Mendocino MTA bus service ( And there is ride sharing too – post your request on Craigslist or some such site – at the very least ridesharing will be interesting.

Being There

Things to Take:

Are you camping? Tent, bedroll, water, food, aspirin (check, check, check, check, check). Oh yeah, and some extra money (no checks).

Eat food, not only during the celebration process but in the morning as well. The festival has food (and we have Slow Hand BBQ this year – 1st time ever) and there are a few good eating establishments in town (and a few “pop ups” on that weekend) but it is always a good idea to bring a little food of your own (you know, late night munchies, tent breakfast, snacks).

As we all know higher levels of alcohol consumption can deplete vitamins from your body. So …… pack lots of vitamins, especially the B-complex (brewer’s yeast supplement is a good source of B-complex).  The best thing to do is to ingest your vitamin B-complex before you launch into your mission or at least before you go to bed. Drink lots of water throughout the day; at the festivities, at the end of the evening and upon waking.

Comfortable shoes and lots of clean socks; you are constantly on your feet at these events; talking, drinking, schmoozing, wandering about aimlessly. At the end of the day your dogs are gonna be hurting – unless you have some damn comfortable shoes. In addition there can be no overestimating the importance of clean socks. You may be hot, sweaty and spattered with swill. But if you slip your feet into a clean pair of socks your whole world changes, your total outlook on life is dramatically enhanced. No doubt about it – clean socks can make your day.  A large supply aspirin will also make an excellent accompaniment for this outing.

Remember to pace yourself – this is a distance event


Right off the bat we need to get one thing straight. No howling –  If you insist on participating in all that whooping & screaming you will instantly be branded as an amateur.  You never see any of the really big, hard core, fest goers doing this howling foolishness. Examples: Garrett Oliver – never!  Sam Calagione  – never! Charlie Papazian – never!  Why do you think the drinking age was raised to 21 anyway, it was because all the 19 year olds insisted on this howling & screaming nonsense! So cut the howling out or drinking age may get raised to 27.

Make new friends, the fest is filled with cool people and you all have at least one thing in common – beer, so introduce yourself and be friendly. Enjoy the music. The festival has multiple bands play throughout the day on multiple stages. These folks are here for you all to enjoy –give a listen, dance and be sure to clap.

There are a few other Emily Post considerations. No Intentional Glass Breaking or Glass Throwing – it is unacceptable behavior. No Dogs are allowed; at the Festival AND at the camp sites (so leave Rover at home for this weekend). No hitting – for any reason (hitting is uncool). No stealing of brewery signage or equipment (yah, you know who you are).

And should you run into a beer writer or brewer the proper thing to do is buy them several beers (and if at all possible take them out to dinner).

Other Good Sites


Fal Allen, brewmaster for Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, is currently quietly resting at home under medical supervision. He is not to be disturbed until it’s time to leave for The Boonville Beer Festival.

49 Responses to “Attending the Boonville Beer Festival”

  1. Jaydog April 13, 2012 11:58 am #

    An annual tradition! More dear than my birthday or April 20th!
    A stop off at Bear Republic, 18 disc golf holes in Ukiah (course at Boonville never
    Been playable due to brewers camp) then into the fairgrounds to set ip camp! Kickball this year anyone?
    Poker at our pad! We’ll have a disc golf basket to putt at at our site!
    Stoked to taste some fantastic beer!
    Bahl Hornin! (did I say that right?)

    • Jared May 8, 2012 5:46 pm #

      Hey Jaydog! What time you think you will be at Bear Republic? I am planning on discussing the itinerary about the trip up with my girlfriend tonight/tomorrow. I am always down for kickball!

  2. BBYMCGEE April 16, 2012 8:59 am #

    This will be my fifth year, and yes it is my favorite holiday, more dear to me than any birthday. If you see a banana this year, give him a high-hive. 😉

    Bahl Hornin indeed!

  3. Dennis April 17, 2012 6:48 pm #

    I think I read it as saying that kids won’t be admitted. It that right?! We’ve always brought the grandkids and such.

    • MikeRiley April 19, 2012 1:55 pm #

      Times have changed. This is strictly a 21 and over event now.

  4. Esquire Joe April 19, 2012 7:47 pm #

    All great advice, and I too consider this the premier event of the year!

    I would, however, add a couple more tips:

    1. Bring your rain gear just in case. Rain has never dampened our spirits during this event, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t tried.

    2. If a little moisture happens to be in the forecast, and you’re camping at the fairgrounds, make sure you put up your tent with the surrounding terrain in mind (i.e., on high ground). There’s nothing worse than waking up to a river of water running under/through your tent. A tarp or pop-up awning is also a plus if the weather turns foul.

    3. PACE YOURSELF (I know you said that already, but it can’t be emphasized enough). Sure, it’s OK to crowd right in and wait in a long line at 1:05 so you can get your all time favorite or the new beer you’ve been dying to try. But for the ensuing 3 hours and 45 minutes, feel free to take your time. You’d be shocked at how early the overly zealous and less mature drinkers will run out of stamina. By 4:00 or so, you can usually step right up and get whatever you want.

    And, as always: SUNSCREEN!


    • Fal April 22, 2012 8:25 am #

      Nice tips Joe ! Yes bring rain gear AND sunblock – the Anderson Valley weather can change quickly and the sun can be intense. And you are correct – pacing oneself is what the experts do. Drink water often and stay hydrated and it helps break up the beer consumption some (+ it helps reduce hangovers) and be SURE to eat before, during, and after the event. Remember the Festival is all about enjoying the beers and having a good time – be friendly and enjoy !

  5. apfeif May 4, 2012 6:45 pm #

    First, let me say that I am foolishly way too excited for this event.
    Secondly, I heard there’s a theme–zombie apocalypse. What does that entail??

    • MikeRiley May 7, 2012 2:25 pm #

      Every year, the BBF committee comes up with a theme. This year, the BBF16 t-shirts have a “zombie” theme and people are encouraged to dress in costume if they so desire. Please leave your zombie killing implements at home though.

  6. EP May 7, 2012 1:53 pm #

    Do you know if we can set up our own grill within the fairgrounds for some late-night BBQ?

    • MikeRiley May 7, 2012 2:21 pm #

      Per Fairgrounds…they must be at least 18 inches off the ground.

  7. Sara J. May 7, 2012 2:59 pm #

    Hi There!!

    First time heading up to the beerfest, super excited!! We plan to camp at the fairgrounds… I’m aware it’s FCFS basis, but I’m curious how early we should get there in order to make sure we get a spot!? Don’t want to be stuck finding lodging cause we arrived too late!!


    • MikeRiley May 7, 2012 3:04 pm #

      In the past….the fairgrounds is open for camping on the Friday before the Beerfest. You can call the fairgrounds at 707 895-3011 to make sure.

      • Andrew April 14, 2016 11:35 am #

        last year you were able to start camping at the fairgrounds on the Monday of the beerfest

    • Dave May 8, 2012 10:27 am #

      Ideal time to arrive is around 10-11 in the AM… you should be able to drive right in.. there is PLENTY of space at the fairgrounds.

    • Andrew April 14, 2016 11:37 am #

      Im always there first thing Friday morning and theres plenty of space. The area fills up fast that night so plan to get there and claim a spot asap

  8. Mark May 7, 2012 10:11 pm #

    I only hear good things about this festival. I was wondering if anyone knows the cost of camping in the fairgrounds and is it per person or by car load / tent ?

    I appreciate any info.

    • Elliott May 10, 2012 2:33 pm #

      I wasn’t there last year, but the 3 prior years I believe camping at the fairgrounds was $11, per person, per night. In years past there was plenty of room if you show up Friday night, but Saturday, you may be hunting for a patch of grass space for your car and tent. They are very strict about enforcing the fire lanes, so don’t even bother to have your car or tent blocking them.

  9. Metaballz May 8, 2012 8:39 am #

    Stoked. Can we leave cars at the fairground and return to them later in the evening or the next morning once we’ve sobered up?

  10. Esquire Joe May 8, 2012 10:13 am #


    The fairgrounds camping definitely should be open Friday, if you want to get there a night early. A few years, people have even come on Thursday.

    If you have to come up Saturday a.m., you should plan on getting there as early as possible to get a spot. The camping area is huge, but will fill up, especially when (as with this year) the weather is good. I would try to get there no later than 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, and 9:00 would be better. By 11:00 you’ll be trying to squeeze into whatever tiny opening you can find.

    Have fun!

  11. Dean Buerke May 8, 2012 5:03 pm #

    I’ve trained the blatter,the belly,elbow,wrist,lips, I just hope i can find my tent after.

  12. Nathan Katzman May 10, 2012 4:33 pm #

    This is the first year I will be able to attend this amazing event, can you bring a backpack into the festival grounds-pretty much I want to know if one can bring in water and food?

  13. Jen-Mo May 11, 2012 11:22 am #

    Is water for sale at the festival, or are there water bottle fill-up stations?

  14. Jaydog January 22, 2013 2:10 pm #

    Look! I’m the first poster for 2013!!! So…kickball didn’t happen last year. I’ll bring the gear just incase for this year. Poker and disc golf basket at our site (by the back fence), we made some great friends in 2012 and look forward to this year. Our annual Camp Stumbleputt (brewery disc golf tour) is coinciding with the beerfest this year, what a way to end the week! This year is about pacing and documenting. I’d like to have a record of sampled beers and some memory of the event.
    From Santa Cruz to Arcata to Ukiah to Boonville! Stunbleputt 2013!!! (stops at Bear Republic, Six Rivers BC, Eel River BC, Lost Coast BC, Redwood Curtain BC, Mad River BC, Ukiah BC, AVBC, and as many disc golf courses as we can fit in 4 days!
    See you there!

  15. GiGANTiS January 29, 2013 3:18 pm #

    How do bands submit?

    • admin February 6, 2013 11:30 am #

      Send an email to Debi Paslay, our event coordinator.

  16. Tk February 23, 2013 12:46 pm #

    What’s the cost?? Just like ta know. Lv me some beer Emm,,

    • admin February 25, 2013 2:40 pm #

      Cost is $40 pre-sale or $55 at the gate for full tasting ticket. $5 for designated driver ticket. Tickets should be available on our website at the end of March

      • PWB February 27, 2013 2:20 pm #

        Where and when can you pre-buy tickets?

        • admin April 17, 2013 11:38 am #

          Online ticket sales are available now.

  17. Mo February 28, 2013 11:13 am #

    When does Tickets go on sale?

    • Steve Miller March 2, 2013 8:33 pm #

      We’re hoping to have them for sale on-line and at local NorCal retailers the last week of March…

      Steinber Kimmie

  18. Joel Fairhurst March 26, 2013 5:12 pm #

    How do I become a vendor for the event?

  19. Christine April 5, 2013 8:46 pm #

    Anyone know at what age “children” are banned? I have a baby and a ticket, never thought they would be incompatible until I was just reading the fine print on the website.

    • admin April 17, 2013 11:36 am #

      Sorry but this is a “21 and over” event.

  20. rob h. April 14, 2013 9:59 pm #

    I am bringing my travel trailer to camp for the weekend. How much is it for hookups? Or what are my options?

    • admin April 17, 2013 11:33 am #

      The Mendocino County Fairgrounds (707) 895-3011 does have RV hookups. Please call them for pricing.
      Other options:
      Indian Creek Campground – Philo, CA 95466 (707) 895-2465 No showers Campsite $20 per night
      Hendy Woods SP – 18599 Philo-Greenwood Rd. Philo, CA 95466 (707) 895-3141 showers and firewood available. 92 campsites $35 per night per site, 4 cabins $50 per night per cabin. YOU MUST HAVE RESERVATIONS
      Navarro River Redwoods State Park – Paul Dimmick Campground – Mile Marker 8.0, Hwy 128, Navarro, CA (707) 895-3141 – 26 campsites , running water/flush toilets, no showers – Campsite $25 per night per site (first come, first served)
      Navarro River Redwoods State Park – Navarro Beach Campground – Just west of Hwy 1 and Hwy 128 – 10 campsites no phone, no water, pit toilets $25 per night per site (first come, first served)

  21. stacy April 26, 2013 9:55 am #

    Can you share more info about the bus to/from Hendy woods? I’m staying at a relative’s house near there and was hoping to find a way to not beg a ride all the way to the fairgrounds. Thanks!

    • admin April 26, 2013 11:40 am #

      I spoke with Anderson Valley Senior Center who provides the shuttle bus to and from Hendy Woods to the Mendocino Fairgrounds. They don’t have a schedule yet but they will be going back and forth all day on Saturday May 4th until the evening. You may want to give them a call later next week.

      • stacy April 26, 2013 12:02 pm #

        thank you!

  22. Ted Kappl February 27, 2014 5:11 pm #

    The camping at fairgrounds is the way ta go. Meet people from everywhere! Anyone know if the people setting up club boont will be there?

  23. Ryn brew March 7, 2014 4:18 pm #

    Welcome to Shanty town! Camping at the Fairgrounds is the only way to enjoy the fest. This will be my 3rd Beerfest and it just gets better each year. Above ground firepits are allowed, keep them attended. Hippy shoes, beer pong, flip cup, cornhole, frisbee are all great pastimes to allow friends to enjoy time with one another, or even make new friends! Respect your neighbors space, it gets pretty crammed as people funnel in from the bay area Friday night and Saturday morning( good luck finding a decent spot, you’ll need it). Bring lots of water! Green trees are abundant, do not be scared of the foreign smells in the air, they cannot harm you. Have fun and make memories, before you know it you’ll be driving home, soak up the night!

  24. Sarah April 25, 2015 11:12 am #

    Is there more info anywhere about the free bus that goes between the Festival and Hendy Woods? (Like what time does it start running? How often/estimated schedule? Also, does it still run? I know this blog entry has been up for a few years.)

    • Jacob April 27, 2015 9:20 am #

      Hi Sarah, the shuttles to and from Hendy Woods to the fairgrounds start at 9am the day of the festival and continue on through out the day.

  25. Meg April 27, 2015 3:36 pm #

    is there any info on what we can bring into the event?

    • Jacob April 29, 2015 10:41 am #

      That question would best be answered by contacting the fairgrounds directly. You can reach them at: (707) 895-3011

  26. Claudia March 24, 2016 5:57 pm #

    Hi! I wanted to confirm if the shuttle stops at Indian Creek Camp?

    • admin March 29, 2016 11:37 am #

      Shuttle stops at both Hendy Woods and Indian Creek campgrounds.

  27. Andrew April 14, 2016 11:33 am #

    Cant wait to finally get up there! This is one of my favorite times of the year where all the guys get together for one hell of a weekend! Be sure to bring plenty of water!!!! youre going to need it. Also if you plan on using the showers, you might want to bring some sandals to wear inside the stall! dont want to catch some gross fungus! If you have an Eazy-up (canopy) be sure to bring that too. its a lifesaver when its gets hot! See yall up there!

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