Enjoy Fresh Beer and Nibbles at Jeonju Gamaek (Corner Store Beer) Festival
This year, the third Jeonju Gamaek Festival was held in Jeonju Stadium parking lot for three days in last August. Gamaek is a shorthand for gagae maekju (literally, corner store beer). Jeonju is famous for small corner stores or kiosks equipped with several tables where you can order beer and nibbles like briquet grilled dried fish.
The most popular venues at the festival were the famous “gamaekjip (corner store beer houses).” Twenty renowned gamaekjips ran venues at the festival, including YeongDong Dakbal famous for chilli pepper fried chicken and fried chicken feet, Jeonil Gabo famous for crunchy grilled dried pollack, and Seulkinae famous for tuna pancake. The venues were selected according to formal criteria of the festival committee and local surveys.
The list of popular local gamaekjips that opened venues in the festival is as follows: Kyeongwon Sanghoe, Green Super, Daebak Gamaek, Daewon Hyugaesil, BanggaBangga Convenience Store, Beer Factory, Samchun Gwangjang, Saeum Gamaek, Songchun Gwangjang, Seulkinae, Anhaeng Gwangjang, Unnissu Gamaek, Yeongdong Dakbal, Eunsung Super, Imsil Gamaek, Jeonun Gamaek, Jeonil Gabo, Hanokmaeul Gamaek, Namyang Shimteo.
I visited the festival on the first day. It was before 7PM, but the parking lot was already filled with people. The festive mood was everywhere thanks to the concert of the local band “Humans.” It seemed like a music festival with beer and food. Crowds enjoying beer and nibbles were spread widely throughout the festival district.
Tables were already full, but people brought cardboard box, camping chairs and table, mat, travel carrier, and many more to enjoy the festival. I was worried about the summer heat, but the evening breeze was cool enough to forget such worries. Everyone seemed happy to spend the summer evening over Hite beer, the local beer manufacturer, and gamaekjip nibbles.
The parking lot was wide enough to accommodate not only gamaekjip venues, but also venues to take photos and play games. There were also SNS events for those visiting the festival. I also took lots of photos at the festival to participate in the events.
The beer sold at Jeonju Gamaek Festival is fresh beer produced on the day of the festival. On the first day alone (which was Thursday), twenty thousand bottles of beer were prepared. They were sold out before 9PM the same day. Can you imagine how many bottles were consumed on the following Friday and Saturday?
I had to purchase coin that is used exclusively at the festival to buy beer and nibbles.
Another remarkable thing is that in this year’s gamaek festival, 300 won was donated per bottle of beer. It was very simple: tossing the aluminium bottle cap into the donation box was enough. In Jeonju, you can enjoy beer while making donation!
Gamaek is a unique culture of Jeonju, and the Gamaek festival has become one of the biggest local event of the year. The festival seems to get bigger every year. So, if you plan to visit Jeonju in Summer, make sure to include the festival in your itinerary!