Wild west brewfest



The Event

Our Annual Wild West Brewfest event is one of the major fundraiser programs the Rotary Club of Katy hosts yearly. This event was formed as a fundraising vehicle to assist others in our local communities. What started in 2013 at the Villagio Town Center with approximately 10-15 brewers and ~1,700 patrons in attendance has now grown into an event where the Villagio could not hold the WWBF. In 2021, WWBF moved to Katy Mills Mall with over 500+ craft and local beers from over 100 brewers, expecting 8,000 people!! As we continued to grow, in 2021, we moved to Typhoon Texas Water Park, which offered us attributes such as shade, water features, infrastructure, and power.  
The WWBF is where residents can go to their hometown to have a good time with family and friends. In addition, we have multiple states in attendance, and we have truly made this a destination event for many. With hotels within walking distance from the WWBF, we promote a safe, fun, and energizing festival for many locals and our visitors. The Rotary Club of Katy takes no fee from this event, as Rotarians and our volunteers all give of themselves to give back, making this event one of the country's only genuinely nonprofit brew fests.  
With even more community support and attendees than ever, the WWBF grows bigger each year! We are proud of what we have created and built and look to continue to expand our footprint as we have done with Pflugerville, TX.  

The History

Genesis of the Brew Fest
The history of the Brew Fest started when David Loesch was in Breckenridge, Colorado, in 2012. He biked into Breckenridge from their home during the summer and stumbled on the Breckenridge Rotary Club Brew Fest. It was a fantastic event, with approximately four to five hundred people and roughly 10 to 15 breweries occupying downtown Main Street.  
Katy Rotary Club Needs More Charity Funds
At the time, our rotary club only had one fundraiser, and that was the Katy Triathlon. It was a successful event that was utilized to donate money to scholarships and scholarships only.
Like others in the Club, David was getting frustrated because it seemed like there was nothing else going on, other than scholarships, for our community.  Many of us wanted to expand and find an additional fund raiser.  We wanted more money to fund our Club’s Service Projects and more to support the local Katy based charities that provide essential charitable services to Katy.
Nick Schrader was the president at the time. When David was at the Brew Fest in Breckenridge, he called him so excited saying, "This is definitely something we need to do and explore." He came back in the fall of that year, pitched it to our club. With surprisingly results, most of the older members in our club, in the aged members, 60 years, 70 years, and even 80 years old were totally excited for this event.  And yes, the concerns of serving alcohol came up.  We worked through the issues so that we put the safety of our attendees at the top of the list.  We found ways to mitigate risk.

Getting It Started

Getting It Started
There were three other Rotarians at the time, Ralph Brock, Malcolm Junior, David Loesch, and Nick Schrader that were really taking the helm and making this thing happen. We started the event at the Villagio Town Center in the Spring of 2013.
We had no idea what we were doing, had no idea how many people would show up. We had approximately 10 to 15 brewers at the time, and we had, to our amazement 1,700 people show up. It was a great time and generated $17,000 for us to give back to the community. And we looked at each other and said, we've got something let's make this happen and make it bigger.
The following year we stayed at the Villagio. We had roughly 3,000 people, 33 brewers, about 65 taps. We expanded into a VIP area, and it was just a super success. Gave back $40,000+ that year.

Making Changes to Continue the Growth

We knew that we did not have enough Rotarians to put on the increase in attendance.  We went out to everyone we knew to ask for volunteers.  Many of the local charities that we supported with grants helped us find non-Rotarian volunteers who share our values of making our community a better place through the WWBF.  In the last few years, we have had the support of 400-600 fabulous volunteers.
Attendance continued to escalate. In year three, we had 3,600 people. We realized that we had outgrown the Villagio.  There was not adequate parking, too many guest was in too small a space, beer serving lines were too long and it was not the quality of event we wanted to put on. We had to move.
David met with Simon Properties who owns Katy Mills Mall, Florida office which handles their marketing. We spoke to them about having the Brew Fest, advocating Mills Mall location, and occupying about a hundred-thousand square feet of their property of their overall parking lot.  They agreed that it would be a good fit for both the WWBF and the Mall. We solved the problem.
The Move to Katy Mills & Major Sponsors
At the Villagio we occupied 30,000 square feet. Moving to Katy Mills Mall was a massive jump. We signed the contract on a year, over year basis and took 130,000 square feet of their parking lot for year four. Year four, we busted the 5,000-patron mark with 5,500 guest attending. We raised about $90,000 and now, we received city support.
At Katy Mills Mall, we experimented with new ideas. Here are just a few:
  • Air Conditioning of the now huge10,000+ HOP House: our VIP Tent
  • Savor local cuisine as part of the ticket price in the HOP House;
  • An air-conditioned silent auction tent;
  • Adding Wine with a separate tent called the Wine Grotto;
  • A VIP room in our VIP Tent called the Reserved Craft Room (RCR) offers select vintages of rare beers along with food;
  • A High-Octane Tent for higher alcohol content crafts;
  • An Arcade Game Tent;
  • Friendship building games;
  • Multiple live bands;
  • Adding a Friday Evening Event called the Launch Party, especially for Business Leaders, Sponsors, Rotarians, and Civic leaders in Katy;
  • Adding a 3rd night called the K-Town Throw Down to serve as a networking event

The Move to Typhoon Texas - providing the charm to our customers 

The move to Typhoon Texas moved WWBF to another level. We took the entire park, which is about 180,000 sq ft. Considering the trees, natural landscaping, and excellent staff who helped during the event and in the transition, we felt right at home. We are grateful for this partnership, so we expanded the event to Austin as they had a Typhoon Texas there, too! 

The City of Katy was excited to get on board. And to this day, they're still on board and are our largest partner, along with H-E-B and Truist Bank. With all of this said, looking back over the years, the success was only due to the vision, the people working, the events, the Rotarians, and the volunteers that completed the hard work to make the event the best it could be, we developed good teams and made good friends along the way. None of us get paid: no management fees, no salaries, volunteer friends having a good time putting on a community event while giving back to those in need! 

Expansion to the Austin Market

Vision carries many things, one of which is responsibility and guidance. Our Club's vision was to expand WWBF beyond the Katy Market. In 2023, we did just that: we took WWBF on the road to Pflugerville! This first event for the Rotary Club of Pflugerville was a smashing success, netting over $17000 on their first event! Our mission is to spread the 4-way test around the country, and we are proud to participate in a small part of this! The Pflugerville club is now professional regarding running the event, and we are so excited to see what the future holds for them! 

WWBF continues to change lives for the better. We are proud to host the event and share our experiences with others so they might, too, experience the incredible joy this event brings!  

Photos from over the years at the Wild West Brewfest