South Carolina-based Brewery (Among Others) Pulls Out of Wicked Weed Event (UPDATED with additional commentary)

UPDATE, 9:13PM: In addition to everything below, I would also like to add the following article from the Craft Beer Joe blog. He does a nice job taking on this issue from many different sides.

One of the potentially significant casualties in this Wicked Weed acquisition by ABI is an upcoming Wicked Weed event called the Funkatorium Invitational. To be held this July, the Invitational was an opportunity for brewers from across the country to come together and celebrate one of Wicked Weed's biggest successes: the development of the sour beer.

In light of yesterday's news, outlets are reporting that at least a dozen of the 70 breweries scheduled to appear at this event have now pulled out. Despite the setbacks, which may continue in the coming days, Wicked Weed remains committed to the event, but is offering refunds to those who desire them.

Among the pullouts is the Greenville, South Carolina-based Birds Fly South Ale Project. As a South Carolina-based blogger, I was eager to hear their plans on the Invitational specifically, as well as their thoughts on the matter as a whole. I reached out yesterday, and this afternoon, BFS's Ames Webb responded to me with their public statement, which is now available on their website:

In the southeast and across the nation small breweries face significant limitations and challenges because of the economic and legislative efforts put forth by large breweries and distributors. These initiatives create an environment that stagnates innovation, collaboration, and creativity. Smaller operations constantly must find ways to work within these damaging state-level policies, and the results are a severe limitation in financial, cultural, and quality-of-product growth.
At the beginning of this Birds Fly South journey we want to take the culture lessons that have been passed down from our craft brewery friends and mentors to establish an identity our Greenville community and our BFS Flock can be proud of for years to come.
As such, Birds Fly South has decided to withdraw our scheduled participation in the upcoming Wicked Weed festival. This decision is not related to the individuals who work in the extensive Wicked Weed family, and does not come without our entire team involved. We are all trying to make the best choices for ourselves and our families. We understand this is a business decision for Wicked Weed, however we simply cannot participate with the direct lobby group that is influencing SC laws that in turn negatively impact our closest friends.
Our choice is to stand strong in unison with small independent craft breweries. To us this means focusing on what we need to do locally in support of smaller, independent brewers. The concepts and spirit of this craft beer fellowship are the foundation of who we are: an alliance of talented makers, united in our passions, ethics, and practices.

BFS makes an excellent point about ABI's actions that "negatively impact our closest friends". ABI won't only utilize their lobbying resources on state lawmakers all across this country, they use their significant financial resources to strong arm their way into more and more shelf space in grocery stores, gas stations, distributors, and more, ALL at the expense of independent craft brewers and their (in some areas) dwindling commercial footprint. I also love use of the word "fellowship" in the final paragraph.

Anyway, my personal thanks to Birds Fly South for their cooperation. I will post more on this ongoing story as needed.