MCL hosts first annual Booktoberfest fundraiser

MANCHESTER — Though the fundraiser was advertised as "the wurst party of the year," the Manchester Community Library's first annual Booktoberfest drew locals and visitors alike for craft brews, Oktoberfest-themed bites, and a literary trivia battle.

The event was intended to bolster the MCL's book budget, and it found support in local establishments like Manchester's Crooked Ram and Peru's J.J Hapgood General Store & Eatery.

"This year we're featuring craft beer from the Crooked Ram, and we also have some food that's been donated from local restaurants — sort of Oktoberfest type of bites," said library executive director Betsy Bleakie. "We also have a literary trivia challenge; people can buy a ticket to put together a team and win gift cards to the Northshire Bookstore."

Booktoberfest augments a more sustained fundraising effort from the library in the interest of growing their literary collection.

"For the whole month of October there's also a chance for people to give a custom amount to a particular topic, and then their money will buy books on that subject," said Bleakie, noting that fundraising is a constant consideration for the MCL. "We never have enough money to do what we need to do, so these fundraisers help to make sure that we can buy the books that people are looking for."

A bevy of bites — including German potato salad and bacon wrapped bratwurst -- were donated from local restaurants including The Copper Grouse, Mother Myrick's, Rachel's Gourmet Foods, and Dorset's H.N. William's General Store.

While the library is grateful for that community support, says Bleakie, the MCL works to provide for the community in turn as well.

"The things we do, like host an ITVFest, that's not something that's typically found in an old-fashioned library budget," said Bleakie, noting the plethora of community events hosted by the MCL. "But in a new 21st century library, where we are the host and the venue for community events, and we do programming that is multi-layered -- that takes staffing, that takes planning, and that takes time. It's not just checking out books."

That community focus is what drew J.J. Hapgood's Renee Fishner to the library initially, when her family made the move to Manchester two years ago.

"I have a young daugher who is three years old, and we've fallen in love with the Library," said Fishner, who also serves on the MCL's Board of Trustees. "We were ready to settle, coming from Boston and Connecticut, so when we found this amazing library we knew this area was the right fit."

Peter Campbell, the owner of the Crooked Ram, was similarly motivated to support his local library.

"My two year old son loves coming here, and when we moved to the area a few years ago it was a really great way for both him and my wife to meet people," said Campbell, who provided tastings of regional craft beers throughout Booktoberfest. "We think that the library is a really important part of the community here, so we're happy to support it."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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