Snallygaster Craft Beer Festival, Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on October 27, 2013

Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

The month of October is filled with events celebrating the traditional German festival known as Oktoberfest. The world’s largest fair takes place in Bavaria, and is actually a 16-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year.

To the locals, it is not known as Oktoberfest, but rather as “die Wies’n”, which is an abbreviation of the name of the fairground (Theresienwiese) where the event takes place. This celebration is an important part of the Bavarian culture, and has been celebrated since 1810.
I had the opportunity to visit Germany a few times many years ago, and Bavaria was always my favorite part. It is located in the south of Germany where it is a little warmer, and as a result, the people of Bavaria have a happier and friendlier outlook than their northern counterparts. Bavaria is beautiful and quaint in so many ways with colorful paintings on the walls of homes and out buildings. What I love most, are the flower boxes in the windows of many of the homes and balconies that display explosive bouquets of delicate, cascading flowers. The moral of the story here is if you ever make it to Germany, make sure to visit Bavaria.

image courtesy of
Bavaria, Germany

image courtesy of
Bavaria, Germany
While in Munich, I had the chance to visit the tourist attraction known as the Hofbräuhaus — a busy and always packed venue that attracts tourists from around the world. The monster beer mugs that you can get are almost impossible to lift, let alone finish.

I never had the chance to attend an Oktoberfest celebration in Germany, but I carry with me many lovely memories of my time in Augsburg and Munich. I always remember the delicious food and beer that I enjoyed there and always find myself searching for traditional German events or Oktoberfest celebrations. As I was hunting around, I came across an event called Snallygaster held every year at the Union Market in Washington, DC. Before contacting the event coordinators, I did a little research on the Snallygaster event to find out a little more. The more I read about it, the more I liked what it was all about.

The name Snallygaster came from a mythical creature said to terrorize the region at the turn of the century, and looks much like one of those fire breathing dragons we remember from movies like Braveheart. The event itself serves as the largest annual fundraiser for the Arcadia Center, a non profit organization dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the DC and Virginia areas. The money is used to support a Farm Camp in Alexandria that serves as an outdoor classroom for school children. Here the children learn all about growing food with sustainable practices, and what healthy food really is. The funds also support a Mobile Market, a 28-foot school bus that makes weekly stops in the underserved and low income neighborhoods of the area. Its presence makes fresh food accessible and affordable through food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC.

There are a variety of different packages that you can purchase online (from $30-$50) that includes your admission fee, along with a certain number of food and beverage tickets, depending on the package you choose. The $10 admission fee is donated to the Arcadia Center and extra tickets can be purchased as necessary. Each food and beverage ticket costs $1, and can be applied to either food or drink. The average cost for a full mug of beer is 6-9 tickets, and sample tasting portions between 3-6 tickets. The cost of the food items vary.

The sample size looked like this…

Sampler size offered, Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

The day was overcast, drizzly and a little chilly, but it did not stop the mob of people from attending this very well coordinated event. I’m always a little leery when attending events where the main attraction is alcohol, because you simply never know what you will find when you get there. It was obvious that even though it was a fairly young crowd, the general attitude was that they were there to have a great time and support a worthy cause.

Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

Snallygaster At Union Market, DC 2013

Snallygaster At Union Market, DC 2013

Unlike other beer festivals, these guys buy their beer from brewers and don’t rely on beer donations. The event offers classic brews along with some little known imports and rare and exotic ales. You will find some of the best American craft drafts as well as cask ales and gravity kegs of Franconian lager. All in all, there were about 200 very different selections that included Pumpkin Ales and Fresh Hop Harvest brews.

Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

You may not think that that a craft beer festival would be a family friendly event, but it is. The event allows children 14 and under in free without having to pay the admission fee. They have a whole section set up with activities for the kids, and I did happen to see a few people there with young children.

Food trucks scattered throughout the event were available for different food items like pizza, empanadas, tacos and kabobs.

Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

If you are not into the food truck scene, you may want to check out some of the food stalls in the market itself. Some of the same food truck vendors offer full service food stalls inside the market, so make sure to check it out while you are there, you won’t be disappointed!

Korean Tacos, Snallygaster At Union Market, Washington DC, 2013

When I discovered that Snallygaster was going to be held at the Union Market, it piqued my interest even more. I remembered reading an article about the recent renovations and changes at the market, and I had always wanted to visit. It’s location is perfectly poised to take advantage of DC’s exploding food scene, but also offers potential food businesses some unique pop up opportunities that are not commonly found elsewhere. The market is conveniently located off route 50, in an industrial area reserved for all kinds of wholesale businesses. The building itself is not huge, but does offer a low cost rental option for food businesses within the District line. When inside the market, you will find some delicious items to choose from. For a complete list of vendors, make sure to check out the Union Market website for vendor information and hours of operation, because they do vary. Regardless of whether you are looking for something sweet or savory, the market offers a few different options to keep everyone happy.

Beautiful Breads at Lyons Bakery, Union Market, DC

Mediterranean Corner, Union Market, DC

Trickling Springs Creamery, Union Market, DC

Cash and credit cards are accepted throughout the Snallygaster event, and ATM machines are also available inside the gates of the venue. Advanced purchase of tickets is suggested because the event does sell out quickly.

For more information on next year’s event, make sure to check out the Snallygaster website.

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