Snowbird • Nick Westbye held his daughter, 4-year-old Amelya, securely as they rode down the 1,300 feet of super-sized slide at Snowbird ski resort.
"I think she just likes to spend time with dad," said Westbye as the girl shyly clutched his hand. They headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon Sunday to spend Father's Day at the annual barbecue and Brewfest at the resort. "There are great activities you both can enjoy, father and kid."
The festival has been growing for each of its five years, with nearly 2,000 people drawn by both the local beer and Snowbird's summertime activities, including the seated zipline, ropes course, bouncy swings and an inflatable castle.
The offerings are set to expand in August with the opening of a roller coaster. The idea stirred controversy when it was proposed, but earned approval from the Salt Lake County Council after the location was moved to private land next to the Peruvian Express chairlift.
All of it brings new people to the ski resort in the off-season, said special events manager Misty Clark.
"It's definitely a different crowd summer to winter," she said. "Who wants to be in the valley when it's 91 degrees?"
Not the Faraclas family, who were celebrating their second Father's Day with barbecue at Snowbird.
"Going out is a little tough right now," said Erin Faraclas, smiling at towheaded 2-year-old Tristan. "If he screams here, we're OK."
"So far so good," said her husband, Elias Faraclas, dabbing a bit of baked beans from his son's face. Next to him sat a stroller holding the family's newest addition, 2-week-old Devin. Meanwhile, a family with older sons made plans to celebrate with some friendly competition on the double slides.
"First one down is the winner," said Jason Lutes, who came with girlfriend Amy Cook and sons Brouan, 8, Ethan, 15 and Sean, 16.
For local brewers, the event is a chance to expose new customers to their products especially the higher-alcohol beers sold only in state-owned liquor stores.
"Utah is starting to catch up with the rest of the nation," said Keith Riekena, Utah sales manager for Squatter's Pub Brewery. "Craft beer is in front of a burst of growth right now. People are looking for beer with more flavor and personality."
Andrew Rinaldo, a brewer at Red Rock, said Utah beer festivals tend to be wholesome affairs.
"It's smaller, everyone is more relaxed, it's not so crowded," he said. But those looking to wear their tastes on their sleeves could buy a yellow-and-black "X-communicated Mormon Drinking Team" T-shirt from one of the booths clustered in a corner of the parking lot.
The name is meant to be affectionate, said Hannah Talbott, of Denver.
"We're not anti-Mormon at all," she said. And "Utah has a lot of great beer Epic, Uinta, Wasatch."
Randy King was among a group of friends who founded the team while studying at Utah State University a decade ago.
"When I first started, it was just Sierra Nevada, but now there's so many craft beers around," he said. "Beer has evolved."