A successful event is no accident

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After a hard reminder early in the week that winter is still very much a thing, a beer and hotwings festival is just what we needed.

The Southern Vermont Wings and Winter Homebrew Festival, held Saturday at the Masonic Hall in Bennington, was filled to capacity. Local favorite Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza took home the award for Best Regional Wings while Jeremy Meerworth won Best Home Brewery with a peanut butter cup stout.

About 300 people attended, a fair number for downtown Bennington during the tail end of winter.

Events like this don't just happen. They require a great deal of time, volunteers, and know-how. Coordinating this event was Will and Trish Gardner, with help from Catamount Access Television, Madison Brewery, and the Tap House at Catamount Glass.

The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce deserves credit, too, for much of the logistics. According to the Chamber Executive Director Matt Harrington, chamber staff helped organize the event, created the promotional material, worked to distribute said material, handled merchandise, and coordinated volunteers.

While the Bennington chamber does far more than event planning, its role as an event facilitator shouldn't be underestimated.

A steady supply of things to do can be what defines a community. People don't just come for the events, they hang around for a bit after and if they like what they see they return, sometimes to live or start a business. Personal connections get made, word spreads, and a community's identity is formed.

The chamber has been doing well over the past few years helping to plan Oktoberfest, Restaurant Week, the Bennington Arts Weekend, Winterfest, and of course the Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival which in its own draws over 20,000 people to Bennington each year.

These events have all gone quite well, thanks in no small part to the chamber's efforts. The garlic festival especially takes a massive amount of time and work.

It's important that these events are planned and managed smoothly and professionally. One bad scene can sour a lot of people towards a return visit, not just for next year's event, but other events in the area.

That the Southern Vermont Wings and Winter Homebrew Festival not only sold out but is in itself somewhat of a sequel to the successful Four Corners Homebrew Festival held over the summer is testament that the chamber and its allies are doing something right on a consistent basis.

Winter events also pose their own challenges. Finding a suitable indoor venue can be tough, and the weather may not always cooperate leading to low attendance and even cancellation.

This was the first Southern Vermont Wings and Winter Homebrew Festival. We hope there'll be a second.


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