What's better than live musical entertainment and the great outdoors? Plenty of cold beers and infinite tacos! On September 22, the Portage Brewfest & Taco Test, organized by the Portage Township YMCA and the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce, brought the community together to enjoy live entertainment, sample local craft brews, and vote for this year's top taco.
Every penny donated from the festival goes directly toward the Portage Township YMCA and the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce. This year, guests get to have a blast while supporting two great nonprofit organizations.
"We are hosting this event in conjunction with the YMCA; they had been doing the Brewfest for three years, and a while back we partnered with the YMCA to utilize Founder’s Square Park since it's just been built," said Nancy Simpson, Executive Director of the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce. "It’s a great meeting place for the community, and we wanted to utilize the theater and live music to enjoy the beautiful day."
The event was indeed beautiful; there wasn't a cloud in sight as the sun shined down on the park. The attendees had a selection of 75 varieties of beer, cider, mead, and wine to sample. Chad Clifford opened the musical acts, playing his guitar, singing, and setting the relaxing mood. John "Dondo" also performed a few of his songs later on in the evening.
Attendees Carrie and Michelle Doan came to have some fun, loosen up, and enjoy a nice cold drink.
"We came because it's Saturday, we're off, and we have no children today! We're hoping this is going to be a good experience," said Carrie.
"I'm from Portage, so I wanted to see some of the different beers because this is my hometown, this is adult only, so it's kind of nice to get away," Michelle said.
People received a tasting cup and three and a half ounces of spirits of their choice to taste. The fest provided a great chance for guests to try something new and see if they like a local craft brew or microbrews. Also in abundance were games to win prizes; for instance, winning a mini bowling game earned champions a free gym membership at the Portage Township YMCA.
"So many of us don't take the time to relax and unwind, so it's a place where everyone can come out and mingle together. You get to listen to great music and enjoy some friends and company," said Shannon Burhar, President and CEO of the Portage Township YMCA.
The Taco Test comprised 10 samples of tacos from over 7 different local vendor food trucks. After the people tried the tacos they voted on their favorite. The best taco received the top taco award, and the vendor got to donate $100 to their charity of choice.
During the late night, the beer garden stayed open serving drinks and keeping customers happy.
"The word ‘beer’ and the word ‘garden,’ when you put them together you have this awesome thing. We also have free pop and water for everyone," said the Business Development Manager of Country Inn & Suites of Portage, Michael Staszewski.