Updated: Apr 17
The World Games 2022 have come and gone and depending on who you talk to it was either a rousing success or an abysmal failure - or, occasionally, something somewhere in between. Truth be told: the point is moot.
Did it live up to expectations? That depends. Did it meet the projections business owners were led to expect? Absolutely not. But keep in mind, in that scenario, it was always only about 11 days.
If companies that faithfully provided services for the event have not been paid yet, they must be. Period! But beyond that, it was all over in 11 days. In the course of a year, a third of a month rarely determines a company’s overall success or failure.
Did the failure of the anticipated droves of out of town visitors to materialize deprive the local hospitality industry of a big economic boon? (The same droves often touted by the Games’ organizing committee as ready and waiting to descend on the festivities and occupy our fair city in the process.) Yes. Absolutely.
So the hotels weren't full, some vendors were disappointed, restaurant and food truck traffic was hit or miss, and a lot of people worried about downtown traffic gridlock unnecessarily.
But the thing is, it was never posited as a make or break situation. It was not an all or nothing proposition. For these businesses, all it was ever about was whether this was going to be a really good two weeks…or not.
Perhaps a better question might be, after two weeks, two months, two years, and so forth, what did/will the Games accomplish for Birmingham? What are the 'long game’ implications of hosting The World Games?
It's still too soon to know for sure. That's for the future. The answers will become apparent soon enough because they always do. After all, a city’s future, in large part, is simply a function of its difficult choices.
However, we do know right now that for a short time our city was front and center in the lives of visitors who arrived as strangers in the pursuit of their fondest dreams and who departed friends. And they did not leave empty handed, along with their medals and little Vulcan statues, they also carry with them a new story to tell.
A story that will always begin, Once upon a time, in Birmingham…
Another takeaway that we can actually grasp immediately is that The World Games put the city squarely in a conversation it wasn’t in before. And a different conversation about Birmingham is something that’s been long overdue.
No, Birmingham isn’t perfect, far from it, but it looked great on TV (and it was so much fun to watch). Sure, some different programming choices would have proved to be advantageous to the opening and closing ceremonies, but Protective Stadium looked spectacular and was more than up to the occasion.
The World Games was only its launch party; the best days for this arena are yet to come.
And every time someone searches or speaks about The World Games, henceforth into perpetuity, Birmingham, AL is now an element of that story, a part of the lore, along with:
Santa Clara, CA - USA
London - UK
Karlsruhe - Germany
The Hague - Netherlands
Lahti - Finland
Akita - Japan
Duisburg - Germany
Taipei - China
Cali - Colombia
Wroclaw - Poland
Birmingham, AL- USA
Chengdu - China (2025)
This international assemblage is an eccentric group, for sure. It’s also a very exclusive one. Adding only one new member every four years, membership will only reach 30, by the advent of the 22nd century.
This adds an intriguing layer to Birmingham's “search-ability” and this permanent association with The World Games must have created (and will continue to create) curiosity about the city’s attributes in the minds of many, and maybe it will raise the expectation level among those uninitiated in, or unacquainted with this town.
So to those who would maintain that Birmingham got all dressed up and now without the Games has nowhere to go, we suggest that maybe getting all gussied up was the point all along. And as for nowhere to go? Why go anywhere? It’s pretty great here! How about a grand stay-cation?
Try thinking about the concerted effort that went into putting the city’s best foot forward for The World Games as the act of driving a great big Now Open for Business! sign in BHAM’s front yard.
And this brings us back (the long way) to Beermingham, USA!
BHAM’s Local Brew Hub
Beer is one of humankind’s oldest inventions and it has been central to the human story since ancient times. Communities have always gathered around beer production.
And whenever people join together in celebration or commiseration, beer has always been a constant companion. In fact, it’s really impossible to measure the enormity of beer’s impact on society, civilization, even.
In the last decade or so the greater Birmingham, AL area has added over a dozen commercial craft breweries to its tax rolls. Between the wholesale, retail, and taproom sales, this is big business (not UAB big, but quite significant, nonetheless).
Taken as a collective, these breweries give the Birmingham area the opportunity to level up in the visitors' "game," by marketing and promoting this region as a prime destination for a very niche group of experiential tourists – beer lovers!
Enter Beermingham Brewers Collaborative!
The Collaborative was founded in 2021 to introduce our burgeoning beer scene to the world and to inform beer lovers everywhere that Beermingham, USA = your first round draft choice!
These days, besides the most obvious benefits that craft breweries provide to their host cities, like job creation, workforce development, and taxes, there are also many other less obvious examples that are nonetheless still realized wherever brewers choose to pursue their ancient practice.
Craft breweries are always engines for economic development. Among their contributions, they often tend to:
Revitalize and renovate old buildings in under-served areas of town
Generate an energizing sense of community pride
Provide an enjoyable space for an off duty workforce to gather and unwind
Help recruit high-level talent and businesses to the city (especially among the entrepreneurial-minded, tech & data industry types)
Offer beer lovers a destination for beer tourism
It was directly along these lines that the concept of Beermingham, USA began to take shape.
The Collaborative formed at a time when breweries were busy adapting and adjusting somewhat successfully to the new business protocols and consumer lifestyle changes caused by COVID-19. It was a testament to innovation under adversity.
Meanwhile the restaurant industry had been decimated, tourism was nonexistent, and live music was extinct.
We were immediately focused on ways to use the relative success of the breweries during this period (as compared to other segments of the hospitality industry) to extend a helping hand to those members that were hardest hit. After all, in addition to being friends and customers of local breweries, these segments of these struggling sectors of the hospitality industry were also a large part of destination-Birmingham's appeal.
It's Music to our Beers...
To the novice, it may seem like Birmingham’s music scene is under-exposed and underrated. (It has never captivated the national attention like Athens, GA or Seattle, WA.) But behind the scenes there’s a lot going on.
This is the kind of town where the person that checks your ID at a bar or pours your beer at a brewery, likely has another job, in a band.
There are no shortages of BHAM - based musicians contributing on a high level in the music industry, up to and including touring the world with a band you love. But again, from 2020 - 2021 that activity had ground to a halt.
As soon as it was deemed safe to do so, 2021 Brewzapalooza, teamed us up with 15 bands to help jump start our city’s dormant music scene. This was the first of hopefully many opportunities for the Collaborative to put the spotlight on some of the bands that give Birmingham its magic, and it was made possible through the generous support of these companies.
No need to reinvent the wheel...
True “foodies” have known for years that lots of our local restaurants are legendary. BHAM’s culinary landscape has recently overshadowed nearly every other in the region (in no small part due to the house that Frank Stitt built).
Stitt’s ventures and those of his prolific proteges are without a doubt the new pillars of this food scene; but it must be said that they only exist within the constructs of a generational hospitality community that had been thriving for decades, well before these newer arrivals, some with and some without all the fanfare.
We “pair” the marketability of our emerging craft beer scene as a destination, with the more established, yet at-the-moment, somewhat undone local culinary marketplace, as it is rebuilding to be better than before.
Our message, simple: You’ve known for years that Birmingham = “food town.”Now be sure to also add “beer town” to this equation.
IT's NOT a Competition! (Oh wait, this part kind of is...)
Q: What is one thing every beer town should do? A: Host a brewing competition.
In 2021, we kicked off the Beermingham Invitational. Local craft brewers that brew on premises (no kits) have a standing invitation to compete. The Collaborative's competition committee then extends invitations to some outstanding "outsiders" to compete with them. Here's a look at our inaugural competition thanks to Cayenne Creative.
Our 2022 event has been sanctioned by the Beer Judges Certification Program and we've expanded several categories. It will take place on Oct. 8.
Brewzapalooza = Craft Beer Week in Beermingham!
Oktoberfest has become embedded in the beer lover's lexicon. Originating in Munich, Germany it is now observed and celebrated around the world. This year it runs from September 17 to October 3.
That's where we come in. Beermingham Brewers Collaborative tacks on an extra week to Oktoberfest (Oct. 3 - Oct. 9) to celebrate our own craft beer week in Birmingham.
We've labeled this celebration, Brewzapalooza. It comprises our VIPre Party, the Beermingham Invitational Brewing Competition, the Wrap Party (complete with award ceremony, beer, bands, food trucks, and door prizes!). We also support and promote the individual events that are produced by the local breweries.
Don't believe us? Come see for yourself!
It's our contention that Birmingham, AL has a lot to offer to the world and an introduction to its vibrant craft beer scene is a perfect way to package it. We see no need to rely exclusively on once in a lifetime events coming to town to make travel here seem more compelling.
We've got James Beard award winning restaurants aplenty. We've got a music scene you've got to hear to believe!
The World Games proved that Birmingham can definitely look the part of a big time host city. We believe that it also proved we don't have to press beyond our comfort zone to attract visitors who'll be more than pleased to take us as we are now.
So, if you're looking for a good time (made even better by craft beer), look no further. Beermingham, USA is your first round draft choice.