Before April Brews Day kicked off, the line to get inside the event stretched around the entire block on East Chestnut Street. People started lining up two hours before the event.
April Brews Day celebrated its 15-year anniversary Saturday, April 30. Over 50 breweries came together to supply the beer-loving community of Bellingham with over 100 beers and ciders.
The event that gathered a crowd of over 4000 individuals last year is hosted annually by the Max Higbee Center, a non-profit organization. The Max Higbee Center is a local Bellingham organization that funds and runs many recreational programs for teens and adults with developmental disabilities.
“We really just work towards decreasing the barriers so everyone has equal opportunities and access in our community,” Kait Whiteside, executive director of the Max Higbee Center, said. “A lot of our members experience barriers, whether it is mobility, communication barriers or experiencing an unwelcome environment.”
April Brews Day was created to bring in more revenue for the Max Higbee Center. The idea was to have a microbrew festival that would bring in money so the center could offer more resources to persons with disabilities, Whiteside said.
“All of the proceeds go directly to our programs. We have been really fortunate to have more and more revenue from this event, so we can continue to grow our programs,” Whiteside said.
Along with a large selection of beer and apple ciders, April Brews Day was catered by six local restaurants and street vendors. El Capitans, Goat Mountain Pizza, JT’s BBQ, StrEAT Food, Kurly’s Fries, Deli’cious Mischief and The Brewmaster’s Bakery.
The event stage hosted three local bands. Out of Ashes, an interactive music program for children and adults with disabilities, played between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Marcel and Nakos, a bluegrass group, were the next to play. And, the last band to go on was Electric Soul Society, which played until the closing of the event.
The Electric Soul Society pulled an energetic audience toward the stage, creating a packed crowd of enthusiastic dancers.
“Oh my gosh, it was awesome! It was a good mix of 80s jams, 90s. They just rocked and I danced for a while, it was fun,” Randee Matthews, a senior journalism major, said.
Upon entering, each attendee received a glass cup, five complimentary drink tickets and an Uber coupon, worth up to $15 for first-time riders.
“I come here consistently, this is the first year I am volunteering. And it’s always been one of my favorite things. For the most part no one is here to make trouble, just having a good time,” Doug Sacrison, a volunteer and employee at the Max Higbee Center, said.
“There is not enough good excuses to drink, but raising money for charity is the best one,”Sacrison said.
The crowd grew more intoxicated as the night went on, erupting in cheers whenever the sound of shattered glass rang in the air. Some attendees tossed their complimentary glasses onto the concrete. The volunteers quickly worked to clean up each broken glass.
Attendees inside the event could also purchase Max Higbee and breweries merchandise. There was a photo-booth table, complete with costumes and a large inflatable pretzel.
“It was so fun, it was my first time. It was nice getting to taste all the different beers from around the area and try some new things. I tried some kombucha which was really good too,” Matthews said.
The attendees were entertained by the bluegrass duo Marcel and Nakos as they walked by the long rows of beer and cider venders.
“I thought it was really great, of course people aren’t there for the music. They are there for the beer, you know,” Marcel Ardans, of Marcel and Nakos, said.
Stones Throw Brewery, a new brewery, which opened up in downtown Fairhaven, was at the event for the second time, but this was their first time being able to serve alcohol. “We were here last year with ginger ale because we didn’t have our liquor license. But this year, it is awesome,” Tony Luciano, owner and operator of Stones Throw Brewery, said.
“We just became big fans of Stones Throw in Fairhaven. I liked the ESB, it was actually really fruity,” Ardans said.
The crowd was not only a fan of beer, but also ciders. Ciders were among some of the more popular drinks at April Brews Day.
Lindsay Coutee, a representative of Ace Cider, said their pear cider ran out at 8 p.m. Ace Cider was serving pumpkin and pear ciders, she said. Some beverages were so popular they ran dry two hours before the end of the event.
Ace Cider will be returning next year, Coutee said.
“There was an interesting brewery called Farmstrong [Brewing Company]. I thought it was so cute, they had a bunch of pictures of animals. Their beer was really good,” Matthews said.