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Dressed in a mustard yellow crochet dress and pink color sash with a tiara on her head, Andrea Rodriguez stood in the line in front of the Full Circle Brewing Company booth, holding a sampling beer mug. Her sash read, “Birthday Princess.”

Rodriguez was one of the hundreds of beers lovers attending the Stockton Brew Fest at Weber Point Events Center in Stockton this past Saturday. Nearly 600 visitors — locals from Stockton, those who newly moved or are visiting a friend or family — attended the sixth Annual Stockton Brew Fest organized by Visit Stockton.

“I’ve been coming here every year since the first year,” Rodriguez said. “It always falls around my birthday, so I come out here to have some beer and have a good time.”

Jessie Bender, left, looks at the falling tower of Jenga blocks as he loses the game while his father John Bender, center, and brother Jake Bender laugh during the annual Stockton Brew Fest. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News /Catchlight Local)

Many of the returning attendees came back to the fest for their love for beer and for exploring new breweries in the area. Aaron Sahagun, a Stockton native, has attended the festival every year since its inception. “I just love beers,” Sahagun chuckled as he said, “My favorite so far has been the 18Seventy Brewing Company; they have a good Hazy IPA.”

“It’s a celebration of all the local breweries around the [Stockton] area,” said Amy Alpers, the director of marketing and communications at Visit Stockton. “We have about 40 different breweries here and, like, 50 different beers being poured.”

Besides breweries, the fest also had local artists, vendors, food trucks and sports organizations such as Stockton Kings, who did giveaways. New additions to the fest this year were distilleries and a live deejay.

Jacob Wood, head brewer at Ceres-based Blaker Brewing, used to work at a brewery in Stockton and has been a regular at the brew fest. “It’s always fun to come back here to the people I know; it is like a mini reunion.” Wood said.

Brittany Holmes fills up a sample glass with the Vanilla Bean Milk Stout during the Stockton Brew Fest. The Vanilla Bean Milk Stout was the popular favorite at Blaker Brewery’s booth. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Wood noted that the fest has had more attendees in the previous years. “It seems like there is less people here [at the fest] this year, and I’m not sure why,” Wood said. “It’s always a good festival with good energy, but it is less crowded than last year.”

“Last year, we had about a thousand [attendees], we are expecting the same this year, Alpers said, as the gates at Weber Point opened at noon to welcome the VIP guests. The gates opened for general admission at 1 p.m. for three hours, while the VIPs got an additional hour and had access to sample the VIP-only drinks.

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.