The second installment in our series highlighting Kennett Brewfest‘s enduring allure for craft beer aficionados, both far (last week’s story) and near. Get your Brewfest crew ready to celebrate friendship, craft beer, and community at kennettbrewfest.com.
“It was the best of times…”
This story unfolds on September 12, 1998, when three unsuspecting family members embarked on a tradition that endures to this day. Sean and Kevin, two of the five Reigel brothers, accompanied by Sean’s wife, Amy, attended the inaugural Kennett Brewfest. Destiny sealed their fate that day, and the Reigel brothers have relished the annual beer festival without fail since then.
“What sets Kennett Brewfest apart from other beer festivals,” remarks Daniel Embree, Executive Director of Kennett Collaborative, the nonprofit organization behind Kennett Brewfest, “is its strong sense of community—it has become a place where friends and families meet and connect.”
Meet the Reigels
Born within a 14-year span, the five Reigel brothers—Daryl, Craig, Doug, Kevin, and Sean—grew up in Chester County, with four of them still calling the county home. Kevin, a biology teacher at Kennett High School and the 2023 Daily Local Wrestling Coach of the Year, was the first to plant roots in Kennett Square in the late 1980s. A decade later, Sean, a local Realtor who also shares Kennett-specific insights as Kennett Local, followed suit by moving to Kennett in 1997 with his wife, Amy. “Kennett is special,” Sean confides. “The people are authentic and family-oriented. It’s where I’m raising my kids—it’s my hometown.”
The brothers remain close-knit, maintaining their bond through group texts and embarking on mountain biking adventures across the country. However, they unfailingly converge in Kennett Square for Brewfest each year, infusing the atmosphere with their spirited positivity, infectious laughter, and zest for life.
Year by year, the Reigel group expands, welcoming nieces and nephews who eagerly count down the years and days until their inaugural Brewfest experience. The next generation of “Brewfesters” also partakes in time-honored traditions, such as Doug’s tradition of wearing his Sala Salu shirt in homage to the restaurant once owned by Sean in Newark—a shirt that continues to draw comments from fellow Brewfest attendees. This is often followed by Doug sleeping on Kevin’s front porch the night after Brewfest, occasionally clutching a meatball sub.
These “sometimes blurry yet somehow vivid memories,” in Doug’s words, stay with the family for a lifetime. Now affectionately known as “the uncles,” they willingly share some of their secrets to ensure a lively and safe Kennett Brewfest.
How to Experience Brewfest, Reigel Style
Step 1: Craft a Plan & Stick Together!
Every year, Kevin meticulously prints out the Brewfest map (available on kennettbrewfest.com during the week leading up to the event) and begins crafting his legendary plan. This plan outlines routes, timing, and specific landmarks, ensuring the Brewfest crew stays on course.
“It works seamlessly… until we reach the Beermuda Triangle,” Sean jests, “then it’s every man for himself.” For some inexplicable reason, the Beermuda Triangle has lured many a lost Brewfest wanderer. Nevertheless, these lost souls always reunite with their Brewfest crew, thanks to Kevin’s map, which guarantees that everyone can find their way back, given that time and place are predetermined. With a group that can swell to 20 individuals at times, this timing and precision are paramount.
Step 2: The Brewfest Ground Rules
En route to Brewfest, the entire group, which often includes lifelong friends who join the Reigel crew for the festivities, is familiarized with the “10 Rules.” These rules are forged and occasionally revised based on years of hard-earned Brewfest wisdom.
While some rules remain a closely guarded secret within the family, three are fitting to share with the broader Brewfest community:
# 2: What happens at Brewfest, stays at Brewfest.
# 5: Take care of ALL the uncles.
#10: We are all purveyors of fun, bringing only peace and harmony.
Step 3: Post-Brewfest Nourishment
Stay hydrated and well-fed throughout and after the event, and do not underestimate the importance of a hearty breakfast the morning after Brewfest.
The entire Reigel crew gathers at an uncle’s home for coffee, accompanied by eggs and bacon cooked on a sizable griddle affectionately dubbed “the gruddle.” Over this steaming breakfast, the group relives the prior day’s revelry, sharing laughter and cherished memories. These recollections often include stories from their time volunteering, contributing to the memorable experiences of other Brewfest-goers.
Volunteering at Kennett Brewfest: “Enhancing the Fun for Others”
One way the uncles sustain their bond during Brewfest is by volunteering together—a tradition that began when a group of friends decided to volunteer as a collective over a decade ago. When asked about the volunteer experience, Sean enthusiastically shares, “It’s incredible because we’re all there not just to have fun, but also to maximize the fun for the community.” Free admission and a complimentary t-shirt certainly sweeten the deal. During the event, you’re likely to find at least a few members of the Reigel crew volunteering their time, always sporting smiles and ready to assist with any task, thereby enhancing the experience for their fellow Brewfest attendees. Daryl fondly recalls an instance when he checked over 1,000 IDs one year, and not a single complaint was lodged—only an abundance of positive vibes. Sign up to volunteer here!
Such experiences led Sean to join the Brewfest Committee, the dedicated group responsible for orchestrating Brewfest. Sean has served on the Brewfest Committee for approximately eight years, which, as he notes with a grin, “feels like forever.” During committee meetings, ideas flow freely, and there’s open dialogue about how to make each Brewfest even more remarkable than the last. “Brewfest thrives because of the committee,” Sean asserts, “while the staff is the backbone—particularly Mary Lou—you still need the arms, legs, and the whole body, which is the committee.” Sean also commends the committee’s receptiveness to one another’s input and their ability to implement improvements. In particular, Brewfest attendees can thank Sean for the smooth gate procedures, as he proposed adding more lines at the admissions gate to expedite entry. Sean’s positive experience serving on the Brewfest Committee also recently led him to join the Kennett Collaborative Board, bringing fresh enthusiasm and expertise.
See You on October 7th!
Kennett Brewfest is a celebration of community, friendship, and family, all centered around the craft of beer. We look forward to seeing you and your crew on Saturday, October 7th. Trust us—and the Reigel’s—you won’t want to miss it! Secure your tickets at kennettbrewfest.com.
Brewfest is the largest fundraising event for Kennett Collaborative. All proceeds are reinvested in the community, supporting intentional programming, events, and placemaking initiatives, such as “There’s No Place Like Kennett Square for the Holidays,” the year-round KSQ Farmers Market, Third Thursdays, and much more!
Our sincerest gratitude goes to Sean and the entire Reigel crew for generously sharing their stories and photos, and, most importantly, for being an integral part of what makes Brewfest (and Kennett) so special.