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Inaugural Wooster Brewfest already getting a following

Winter in Ohio.

Everyone seems to be in post-holiday slowdown. It’s cold outside.

This year, the Wayne Center for the Arts is offering the public a chance to warm up and have fun, all while supporting a good cause.

The inaugural Wooster Brewfest will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 from 6-10 p.m. at the Wooster Hospitality Transit headquarters at 1450 Spruce St. Ext. The building, near the intersection of Spruce Street and Old Columbus Road, was once the home of G&S Titanium.

It’s an unusual venue, said arts center executive director Dayna Sear. “We wanted it not to be in these formal event spaces,” she said. “We wanted it to be somewhere industrial and cool.”

The transit is a nonprofit founded by Ken Bogucki of KMB Management and also the proprietor and general manager of The Wooster Inn. “Ken is partnering with us,” Sear said. “He has been really instrumental in helping us getting (the event going).”

The Inn will provide food for purchase at the event and there will be a fully stocked cash bar. Reddy Freddy will provide the music.

But the focus that evening with be on a variety of craft beers provided by some of the region’s best known breweries. Locally, the JAFB Wooster Brewery and the Millersburg Brewing Co. will participate, along with the Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., Breckenridge Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co., Southern Tier Brewing Co. and Hoppin’ Frog Brewery.

Each brewery will bring three to five of its beers for sampling, and guests will get punch cards to help them keep track of which ones they’ve tried. Tip boxes will be placed with each sample, and guests can vote for their favorites, with a People’s Choice Award being presented at the end of the event.

While one brewery will walk away with an award, Sear noted that all of the tip money will go to the arts center.

The evening’s brews are billed as winter warmer beers, “seasonal beers that would warm you up,” according to arts center board member Chad Bailey.

Sear credited Bailey with bringing the Brewfest idea to the board and board member Amy Kaylor with her help in putting the event together. “Chad brought a bunch of young people to the Wine & Beer Festival last year,” Sear said. They found the event, also an arts center fundraiser, to be nice, but more formal. The Brewfest will be “more of an event,” Sear said, “not so much a fundraiser.”

“I think it’s an event that could stand on its own,” Bailey said. “But in this case, it’s helping the Wayne Center for the Arts.”

And the Wine & Beer Festival will remain on the calendar in the spring.

For now, Bailey and Sear said they are delighted at how quickly the Brewfest idea has caught on. A dozen corporate tables already have sold out, and online ticket sales are taking off. The whole event has come together in just a few months, Sear said, and marketing of it has been mostly through social media and by word of mouth. Bailey noted that when he took fliers to the JAFB Wooster Brewery, “it was like a frenzy of people” wanting information. Sear and Bailey also credited JAFB Wooster Brewery brewmaster Paul Fryman with his help and assistance. Fryman had hoped to do a brewfest at some point, Bailey said, but didn’t have the time or the manpower to put it together. The arts center has been happy to oblige, he said.

In addition to Bogucki and Fryman, Sear and Bailey credited Boreman-Cook Financial Services for its sponsorship and the Faithful Little Cupcake, which is “giving a cupcake for every ticket we sell,” Sear said.

Tickets for the Wooster Brewfest are $40 if purchased in advance and $50 at the door. Designated drivers will be admitted for $10. Wooster Hospitality Transit shuttles will be running between downtown and the event venue the evening of the event. For more information, go to http://wayneartscenter.org/?page_id=16.

Published: January 10, 2015
New Article ID: 2015701109997