Brat Fest returns, new format helps local restaurants

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MADISON (WKOW) – Brat Fest is back after the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the 2020 event. However, the format is brand new: More than 100 venues across Dane County are serving kids in part of the festival theme “Build Your Own Brat Fest”.

Local restaurateurs told 27 News it gives them a chance to attract more customers.

“We definitely could have used the business and we got business,” said Brian Carriveau, the owner of Bierock. “I’m glad Brat Fest has chosen to reach out to participating businesses across the region, to help us out a bit by bringing customers to the door after it got so tough with COVID.”

Bierock’s operations didn’t look too different on Saturday from a typical weekend. The restaurant served kids in addition to its usual menu.

However, some companies have transformed. This was the case with Beef Butter BBQ, which hosted a party in the parking lot, with five live bands.

“Everyone comes out of the woodwork,” said owner Patrick Riha. “They were going crazy to be locked in and out, people’s morale went up. People are great to each other.”

Riah agreed with Carriveau that the festival will boost the bottom line of companies.

“It’s just awesome,” he said. “He really supports us and supports all of our employees.”

Although neighboring restaurants take different approaches to the weekend, Carriveau said the spirit of Brat Fest is the same as in previous years.

“The fact that some places have live music, the fact that some places have good food, including a lot of kids, it’s great,” he said. “But that probably wouldn’t happen if he didn’t raise funds from the official Brat Fest charities.”

Brat Fest events will continue throughout Memorial Day weekend. However, many places, including Bierock, are already running out of kids and won’t get more.

“But I think it’s a good thing for Brat Fest because we’ve sold them all,” Carriveau said.

Riha said her restaurant will have enough kids, in part, because they make theirs.

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