Every 4th of July Americans unite to celebrate our historical day of independence, honoring those that fought for our freedom with fireworks, parades, and American flags galore. On this day we remember our liberation and the freedom we hold, but also acknowledge the service of those who work to keep that freedom safe every day. These local heroes were honored in a special way Wednesday evening at the 4th annual Red Wine and Brew, hosted by Bethany Lutheran Church at Stone Lake in La Porte.
Red Wine and Brew was started as a way to show appreciation for all local first responders and the sacrifices they make to protect the Region,as all proceeds from the event are distributed among local departments.
“Everyone here has become a sponsor, bought tickets, or donated money to support our police, sheriff, fire, and EMS,” said Carey Garwood, Outreach Coordinator for Bethany Lutheran Church and organizer of the event. “We are all about helping the people who serve us, that’s why we do it.”
Part of the inspiration for the event was to combat the negative image being tied to law enforcement in the media.
“There was a lot of negativity in the media towards law enforcement at the time, and we did not like it,” Garwood said. “We thought, these are our family, our friends, our neighbors; they’re serving their community, let’s do something to give back and involve our first responders.”
A lineup of craft breweries and delicious food drew quite a crowd, but that’s nothing new for this annual celebration. The event sells out yearly, making it difficult to snag a ticket, but many lucky attendees were able to make their way in.
“I was lucky enough to get tickets through my office,” said attendee Monica Hampton. “It’s a great experience to just kick back with some craft beer and good music!”
With it being such a hot ticket, it’s no surprise that many guests were enjoying the event for the very first time!
“I’ve never been to Red Wine and Brew, so I thought I’d come out and see what it’s all about,” said attendee Bryce Goetz. “A lot of people rave about it, and it’s definitely lived up to the hype; great weather, great atmosphere, great beer…you couldn’t ask for a better time!”
Plenty of La Porte natives celebrated to soak in the sun, sips, and sounds.
“I live here in La Porte and I’ve never been before, but people kept telling me I should come,” said attendee Gage Ott. “I’m glad I came out, it’s a pretty awesome time!”
Once locals get a taste of the Red Wine and Brew festivities, they keep coming back. Kassandra Singleton and her husband Andrew attended for the second year in a row.
“Today has been amazing,” Singleton said. “It’s good times, good company, and good friends, not to mention the ice-cold beer!”
The laid-back atmosphere and thirst-quenching brews keep crowds coming back, as the event continues to grow each summer.
“This is my very first time being here and I’m having a blast with my friends just rocking out,” said attendee Ronald Wintczak Jr. “I will absolutely come back next year!”
One of the biggest highlights of the evening was the outstanding musical entertainment. Featuring rising country music stars Tenille Arts and Lainey Wilson, special opening guest Dillon Carmichael, and nationally recognized country artist Rodney Atkins, the concert did not disappoint, and had everyone on their feet raising their glasses to hits like “Farmer’s Daughter” and “These are My People”.
“We love Rodney Atkins,” said Singleton. “To see him here live is just awesome!”
Red Wine and Brew continues to grow in popularity, and Garwood couldn’t be more excited for its future and the increasing support it provides to its deserving cause.
“We hope that this continues to grow and we can begin to include local volunteer departments as well, maybe even expand into Michigan City,” Garwood said. “We want to keep this developing to really show that La Porte County loves its first responders.”