VERO BEACH — Permits and backing of the city? Check. Port-a-potties and parking attendants? Check, check. Pilsners, pale ales, porters and IPAs? Check, check, check, check. After five months of planning and going through a what seemed to be a never-ending check list, members of the Vero Beach Sunrise Rotary Club are ready to roll out barrels and bottles this weekend when they host their first annual Florida Craft Beer and Wingfest at Royal Palm Pointe Park.
The idea was hatched after some group members thought that maybe this wasn’t the year to have yet-another golf tournament for its major fundraising event.
The service club uses the money from events to promote humanitarian relief, goodwill and peace here and around the globe.
Hmm, how about a beer fest? One of them asked.
Rotarians Paul Dritenbas, an architect and president-elect of the group, Rick Root, the current president and a local dentist, and Stephen Kepley, an optometrist, roamed around the region attending other beer festivals, talking with distributors and getting corporate sponsors for the event.
The team has also been sampling craft beers as part of their business meetings. They recently held a meeting at the Blue Star Wine Bar which has a selection of craft beers on tap.
“Not a bad job at all,” said Dritenbaus.
The club also joined forces with the city to bring electricity to the park, which is nestled in between the roads leading to shops, restaurants and homes at Royal Palm Pointe.
Rotarian and City Councilmember Tracy Carroll said this is the park’s first major event since it was created when the old Barber Bridge was torn down.
“We are so excited,” said Carroll. She and others hope the Florida Craft Beer and Wing Fest becomes a signature event for the area.
The group hopes to draw 800 to 1,200 people to the festival.
One-hundred percent of the proceeds go to charity and local charitable projects including the Homeless Family Center; the Vero Beach High School Interact Club; the Citrus Elementary reading program; cleft palate surgeries in South America; school construction in Anguilla; Rotary Island in the Indian River Lagoon; Youth Guidance projects; the Vero Beach High School Accelerated Reader Laptop Program; Indian River State College vocational scholarships; Rotary Youth Leadership Assembly scholarship; polio eradication efforts worldwide and water projects in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The beer and wingfest is being held in the Royal Palm Pointe Park from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
There will be several dozen areas to sample beer, have a seat and get something to eat.
The event is free and open to all.
For and those wishing to sample from the 85 different craft beers they must purchase a wristband ($25 in advance, $30 at the door).
Those given a wristband will also get a 4.75 ounce pilsner glass for the beer sampling.
Those wishing to not be part of the sampling but who would like a frosty adult beverage, can buy a 16-ounce beer or a glass of wine for $5.
Two bands, the Old Barber Bridge, a rock-and roll band, and Kayavibe, a reggae dance band, are scheduled to play.
There will be plenty of parking along the Pointe and more parking at the Parc24 garage and the First Presbyterian Church. Shuttle buses will be on hand to ferry event goers across the street.
“We are selling the (wristbands) to anyone who appreciates beer,” said Rotarian Arthur Hodge. “I’ve seen a lot of beers come and go in my time, but this craft beer craze is phenomenal. This event will be a super introduction to real, truthful beer drinkers.”
When it comes to craft breweries, microbreweries and brew pubs, Florida – as is much of the South – was slow to the draw. But it is certainly catching on here.
This weekend’s event will be the third such craft beer festival along the Treasure Coast since October, said Constance Nancy, who handles marketing, graphic designs and special events for Southern Eagle Distributing in Fort Pierce.
“I think it is pretty cool,” she said, “and people are here are becoming really receptive to (craft beer festivals.)”
Nance said such events can be the life-blood that small brewery operations need to get the word out about their beers.
“A lot of these (small breweries) don’t have the seed money,” she said.
Southern Eagle will be representing 12 different breweries and offering tastings for 34 of their beers.
Throw in JJ Taylor and Brown, also other local craft beer distributers and there will be about 30 different breweries with a total of at least 85 different beers.
Adding something different to the mix of most beer festivals will be the chicken wing contest.
Fourteen area restaurants and three independent wing makers will vie for the coveted Best Wing award.
Volunteering to nibble on and judge the wings are Vero Beach Mayor Pillar Tuner, Councilman Jay Kramer and City Manager Jim O’Conner.
The restaurants will also be selling wings to the masses. Other refreshments and food will also be available.
For more information and to buy discounted tickets visit: www.FloridaCraftBeerAndWingFest.com.