Lions Club fundraiser, Brewfest, returns August 19

The 2017 Monticello Brewfest will be held Saturday, Aug. 19 in West Bridge Park. Lion Chad Vokaty said Brewfest has more than 50 confirmed vendors for 2017 and expects to have more than 150 drink options for sampling. (Monticello Times file photo)
The 2017 Monticello Brewfest will be held Saturday, Aug. 19 in West Bridge Park. Lion Chad Vokaty said Brewfest has more than 50 confirmed vendors for 2017 and expects to have more than 150 drink options for sampling. (Monticello Times file photo)

The well-oiled machine that is Monticello Brewfest is set to return Aug. 19. The Lions Club event originated in 2012 and is entering its sixth year as a major fundraiser for the local club.

The event features samples of beer, wine and other spirits from more than 50 vendors, totaling more than 150 drinks to sample. And if that wasn’t enough of a draw, it’s held at the picturesque West Bridge Park on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi.

As beer events around the region, state, and country continue to multiply, Lion Chad Vokaty said location is definitely a draw for Monticello.

“That’s one thing that can separate us from the parking lot events,” said Vokaty. “We think it gives us an element that a lot of other people can’t recreate.”

The craft beer tasting event is set to feature more local brewers than ever this year. In fact, the VIP experience will be almost entirely local. A caramelized beer from Shiner Bock will be the one non-local special in the VIP section, with the other specials all coming from Minnesota breweries such as Hayes Public House (Buffalo), Spilled Grain (Annandale), Lupulin Brewing (Big Lake), and more.

Vokaty said the Lions have started visiting those local breweries more recently to drum up a crowd for Brewfest. In turn, the Lions hope to get people that come to Brewfest hooked on some of the local breweries.

“The hope is that we build up their customer base and in turn they’ll build up ours,” he said.

A few of the other popular breweries confirmed for the event include Indeed Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada, Third Street Brewhouse, Bent Paddle, and Summit Brewing, Co.

But it is no longer just beer at the Lions Brewfest event. That’s how it started, but after some initial feedback the Lions decided to provide a few options for non-beer drinkers too. Bronco Wine Company, Phillips Distilling Company, and St. Michelle Wine Estates are just a few of the vendors that will provide something other than beer.

Vokaty said the majority of festival goers have been quite pleased to have more choices.

“It’s a little something for everybody,” he said. “People want to try craft beer, and have something different too.”

It also isn’t just a drink sampling event. Vokaty said that Brewfest offers the chance for friends to reconnect, for community members to get together, and for people to make new acquaintances.

“Our event is intended to be a community event,” he said. “We want this to be something that really brings people together.”

VIP Tickets to the event were available for a cost of $50, but are now sold out. They include early entry (20 minutes), a VIP t-shirt, a Brewfest mug lanyard, access to specialty kegs, catered snacks, and private bathrooms. There is also a special game with prizes for VIP patrons. The Lions cap VIP sales at 250 tickets.

General admission tickets are still available for $30. All tickets grant admission to Brewfest, include a sampling mug and a scorecard. There are also designated driver tickets for $10, which allow entry but no alcohol consumption, and there will be day of general admission tickets for $40.

The Lions cap event attendance at 1,500 people.

The summer event is certainly a very fun party but it’s also a major fundraiser for the Monticello Lions Club.

“This single event is huge,” said Vokaty. “It’s a very significant portion of [our yearly budget].”

“This allows us to go beyond eyeglasses and hearing aids,” added Vokaty, pointing to the $10,000 the Lions donated for a new Ellison Park Pavilion, and $6,000 for an eye scanner for school vision testing. “It really allows us to do bigger things.”

Brewfest is from 3 until 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19 at West Bridge Park in Monticello. There will be free shuttles running from three Monticello locations (River City Extreme, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Hawk’s Sports Bar) from 2:30 until 7:30 p.m., and free shuttles from four Big Lake locations (McPete’s, Lupulin Brewing, Friendly Buffalo, and Tootsie’s Tavern). Tickets, as well as more information on confirmed breweries and vendors, are available online at www.lionsbrewfest.com.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]