By Reggie Ellis

Tickets for the Exeter Lions Club Brewfest on May 1 are almost sold out. And this may be the last year you can get them for $20.

Brewfest organizer Terry Miller said the Lions Club had discussed raising ticket prices this year, but decided to postpone the increase until next year because of the rainy weather that soaked last year's event.

"We wanted to keep it the same this year as a concession to the community," Miller said. "We could increase the number of people but that would bring down the high quality of the event."

The event's 1,600 tickets normally sell out one to two weeks prior to the event each year as the Brewfest's reputation has surpassed other larger events such as Fresno's Suds in the City. Miller said it is no surprise why the Brewfest is best.

"We have a better variety and more diverse beer tasting outdoor on the lawn of the Memorial Building with the Sierras in the background," Miller said. "Exeter is a great place to hold any event and this is one of its most best. Exeter is the cultural and social center for the Southern San Joaquin Valley."

Speaking of the Sierra Nevada, that will be one of the more than 90 beers from 36 breweries boasted at this year's Brewfest. Some of the more bizarre beers include Hemp Beer (which does not contain any illicit substances), Arrogant Bastard Stout (for those who get a big head of foam) and Fat Tire Amber (to fill up the void wrapped around your chassis). TC HOPS (Tulare County Brewers of Perfect Suds) will also return to offer locally brewed beers on the patio of the Memorial Building. Exeter Meats and Processing will provide the succulent sausage to supplement your savory suds. There will also be a variety of mustards to further enhance the taste.

Also returning to this year's Brewfest is the Exotic Car Show. Lion Bill Sario said there will be an eclectic group of about 20 cars ranging from British sportscars to vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles to classic Cobras and Chargers.

"The car show is a real conversation piece," Sario said. "The cars are in between all the booths so you can take a look at them while enjoying the beer tasting. And this year's show is bigger and better."

Miller said the event will again emphasis the importance of having designated drivers and a taxi service available. There will also be RV parking on a first-come, first-serve basis across the street behind the old Nickel's Payless building. Best Western in Exeter is offering special rates for those attending the Brewfest.

"No one should be drinking and driving," Miller said. "There are plenty of safe alternatives to getting home if you have had too much to drink."

Designated drivers get in free and soda and Culligan water are available for purchase. Live entertainment will be provided by the Three Rivers band Stillwater. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Brewbakers in Visalia, Wildflower Cafe and any Exeter Lions Club member. Tickets at the door, if available, will be $30. The Brewfest will be held from 2-6 p.m. on the lawn of the Exeter Veterans Memorial Building, at the corner of Sequoia Drive and Highway 65. Checks should be made payable to the Exeter Lions Club , 400 E. Pine St., Exeter, CA 93221. For ticket information and availability call 592-3121.

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