Cheers, West Virginia! It’s festival season in the Mountain State as summer temperatures – and outdoor activities – peak. This summer marks the return of WV’s largest, and longest-running, craft beer festival in “Rails & Ales” on August 12, 2023 in downtown Huntington.

The Rails & Ales craft beer festival was launched 10 years ago by Huntington’s Better Beer Coalition to expand the craft beer options in West Virginia and the tri-state area.

“The reason we created the Rails & Ales Festival is because we wanted to grow the craft beer culture in Huntington and improve access to craft beer by demonstrating a demand in our area,” Jessica Pressman, one of the festival organizers told the Herald-Dispatch.

The Rails & Ales Festival has been a success story from the word go. The first festival in 2013 sold out of its allotted 750 tickets in a matter of days. The next year, when available tickets were doubled to 1,500, the festival sold out in a few hours. By 2017, the official attendance had grown to more than 6,000.

“What started as a small project for a few craft beer lovers has really turned into an economic development opportunity for all of downtown,” Pressman said. “The hotels get filled up with out-of-town guests, the restaurants are busy. The festival brings a lot of foot traffic downtown and it’s great exposure for the city as a whole.”

While the original location for the festival was Heritage Station, which was a very popular venue, Rails & Ales quickly outgrew that spot. “We made the move to Harris Riverfront Park [in 2016] and we’re so glad we did,” Pressman continued. “[Riverfront Park] is so beautiful and it’s underutilized. There is a ton of useable space, the shade trees are perfect and there’s always a breeze, and the sunsets along the river are gorgeous. It’s turned out to be the perfect setting for the beer fest. We would love to see that park used for more festivals and events.”

Rails & Ales isn’t just about drinking beer all day. It’s also about food, a local artisan market, and music. So, there’s plenty to do—even if you don’t drink, or are the designated driver.

“We are thrilled to celebrate ten years of the Rails & Ales Festival this summer. We launched the festival in 2013 to create a craft beer culture in Huntington, but the festival has evolved into so much more than that. It’s become a Huntington tradition, a fun excuse for friends and families to gather, an opportunity for artists, musicians, and restaurants to showcase their talents, and it’s an easy way for volunteers to earn money for charity,” the organizers said in a press release.

Overall, the beer and the music take center stage at Rails & Ales. Since moving to Riverfont Park, the festival has showcased local and regionally touring bands on the main stage. Past acts have included local favorites Tyler Childers, Of The Dell, Ona, The M.F.B., and The Dividends.

This year’s entertainment will feature Mike Campbell (3:45PM in the Beer Garden), Dinosaur Burps (4:45PM in the Beer Garden), Stereophonic (5:30PM – main stage), Of The Dell (6:45PM – main stage), and The Settlement (8PM – main stage).

VIP tickets for this year are sold out, but General Admission tickets ($50) and Concert/Designated-Driver tickets ($20) are still available HERE. General Admission tickets include a souvenir glass and unlimited beer & cider samples. Concert/DD tickets include admission only.

Photos from the 2022 Rails & Ales Festival by Joshua Murdock below:

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