When newly retired police Chief Gary Vest led the first Powell Festival in 1997, his goal was to bring the community together.

City spokeswoman Megan Canavan said Vest wanted to "bring people from the community together for a weekend and they get to know each other and their neighbors," creating a cohesive city rather than a group of separated neighborhoods.

"He wanted people to identify as, 'I'm from Powell,' and not necessarily your neighborhood," Canavan said. "He looked at this event as a mechanism to bring people together for a weekend of fun and food and music and just gathering to build on that community."

After 22 years, the small festival has grown into a major event, drawing 15,000 people at its largest and bringing a variety of community members and organizations together.

For this year's festival -- which runs from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 21, and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in Village Green Park, 47 Hall St. -- that spirit of collaboration and community is exemplified by a beer brewed specially for the festival.

Powell Fest Pale Ale, a hazy, new-style pale ale, has finished brewing in the tanks of Nocterra Brewing Co. The signature festival beer represents a partnership among the brewers at Nocterra and Ill Mannered Brewing Co. and the Daily Growler in Powell.

In the past, the Powell Festival has hosted larger craft brewers such as Cincinnati's Rhinegeist to provide beer for the weekend.

Nocterra brewer Bruce Vivian said festival leaders wanted a single brewery to handle all the festival's craft-beer needs, to go along with a more-local focus. Rather than providing a brew alone, the Nocterra team decided to take the opportunity for collaboration, Vivian said.

"We wanted it to be about everybody in Powell," he said. "It's the Powell Festival. ... We were glad to do it. These are our neighbors."

The beer is now available at all three taprooms -- Nocterra, 41 Depot St.; Ill Mannered, 38 Grace Drive; and the Daily Growler, 258 W. Olentangy St. -- and Vivian said he thinks they've developed something drinkable and accessible to a festival crowd.

"It was a matter of picking a style that would be popular with all craft-beer drinkers and kind of easy-drinking," he said.

But the Powell Festival isn't all about beer.

A full slate of bands and performers will play on the Community Stage on the Village Green for the entirety of the event, while the Kids Zone offers trampolines, an obstacle course and other interactive games for younger festival-goers.

Canavan said the fest tries to invite a diverse music lineup each year.

"We like to always provide a lot of variety with our entertainment," she said. "We have everything from '80s to rock to '90s to top 40."

Fifteen food trucks also have signed up to provide fare to hungry residents.

New this year is Night at the Races, presented by the Rotary Club of Olentangy. From 6 to 9 p.m. June 21, guests can watch and wager on online horse racing in the Powell Municipal Building.

The festival's artisan village -- the home of artists and vendors -- has doubled in size this year, putting 30 vendors in an 80-by-100-foot tent.

"We've heard feedback from the community that they really like to shop with artists and vendors, so we made that a goal this year," Canavan said.

For more information on the festival, go to festival.cityofpowell.us.

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