Matt Harrington: Thank you from the Winter Homebrew Festival


On a week that started off cold, in more ways than one, the weekend brought brew, wings and cheer. On behalf of the Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the brewfest, we want to thank everyone that participated in the Winter Hombrew Festival this past Saturday at the Hale Mountain Research facility on West Main Street in Downtown Bennington (former LaFlamme's).

This event we created three years ago in partnership with HopRidge Farms was always meant to be a sign of spring and shaking off the cabin fever. Many hundreds did just that as they piled into 10,000 square feet of homebrewers and wing purveyors. You could see that friendships that perhaps had been packed away in hibernation in Southern Vermont we again rekindled as they tasted, sampled and laughed their way through Saturday afternoon at the festival.

The chamber would like to especially thank James Salerno of Hale Mountain Research for generously opening up his new complex for the festival. Equally, a thank you to our Presenting Sponsor TPW Real Estate, VIP Sponsor The Bank of Bennington, Brewer Sponsors Carbone Autogroup and John Ray and Sons. We also had some great in kind sponsors from The Bennington Banner, Centerline Architects, Hannaford and Ramunto's. Community and festivals like this are built when community members participate. I consider all of the aforementioned strong supporters of the chamber (continually!), as well as activities that bring people to our region. I would encourage everyone reading this to patron their businesses.

Thank you to our wing competitors Ramunto's, Madison Brewery, Hannaford, Brown's, Bennington Pizza House and Tap House. With over 1,800 wings served, your participation is what makes this a unique and special festival for all.

I am truly humbled every time we put on a festival with the amount of free volunteer labor we receive. We simply could not do chamber fundraisers like this if we did not have our faithful volunteers that show up time and time again. So to our generous volunteers, with your time, muscle, and good cheer, thank you.

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This festival is unique, as I believe it is really a joint partnership and win for all. Homebrewers love the idea of showcasing the brew they've been working on all winter and receiving feedback on it, and we love providing the platform for them to do it. We also love that over 80 percent of patrons come from as far away as Maine and Baltimore just to participate in our rather small event.

I said it last week on a WBTN interview; events need both good design and good function to be successful. I think we're successful time and time again because of wealth of talent in both these areas that we work to cultivate. Thank you to Anchored Media for both supplying the branding and merchandise (thanks Kelly and Sara for your help selling the swag), as well as their donation of music and equipment for the festival.

Thank you John Shannahan and chamber staff for helping with the information booth and sending people downtown after the event.

Good design and good function need a leader. I want to personally thank Will and Trish Gardner of HopRidge Farms. Will walked into my office four years ago with a plan to do a winter homebrew festival that celebrated homebrewers. You don't get too many Wills in your lifetime. I often hear, "you know what you should do ;" Will showed up with a six-page plan and just needed a partner. I am glad and thankful the Chamber of Commerce could be that partner. To many more, my friend. Cheers.

Always onward!

Matt Harrington is the executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.


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