The 2017 Noblesville Brewfest: An ‘Olympic-Sized’ Event with an Olympic-Sized Cause

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Craft beer, in most of its forms, has close connections with its immediate and general community. Breweries host community meetings, they get involved in charity events for causes that are local, statewide, and beyond. For example, Flix Brewhouse recently participated in a special tapping night to support and advertise Kammy’s Kause Music Festival in Fortville. The two day music festival raises money for support groups and research into Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome, a rare genetic defect; Flix head brewer Chris Knott’s niece is one of only 600+ people known to have the syndrome since its description in the 1960s, while the founder of Kammy’s Kause, Jared Hiner, lives in Fortville. Craft beer aren’t just helping the community, they truly are part of the community.

One can never know where a gesture like pouring at a charity festival might lead. Perhaps the money raised by Kammy’s Kause will make a significant difference in understanding, treating, and preventing Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome; what is for sure is that Kammy’s Kause makes a difference in the lives of families dealing with this situation. I could name countless other craft beer festivals that have contributed to successes and advances in social and medical areas, but today I want to preview a festival that has a direct link to a life changing event for at least one family and a proud moment for our country. Yes, a craft beer festival can lead as far as the Olympics.

Noblesville Brewfest is one of the most experienced festivals in the state. And it’s for a very good cause. image credit: Noblesville Brewfest

The Forest Park Aquatic Center. The Noblesville Brewfest (September 23, 2017 at Forest Park in Noblesville) is the major fundraiser for the Noblesville Adult Swim Team, Inc., (NASTI) which is the group that single handedly runs the Forest Park Aquatic Center, a public pool and diving facility in Noblesville. Opened in 1976 as the Central Pool, this Olympic sized pool and dive well has been open to the public since the beginning, but not without difficulty.

Since the pool didn’t generate funding of its own, it began to deteriorate and was not maintained well over the next twenty years. The facility was slated for closure in the mid-1990s, and that is when NASTI came in to voluntarily run and maintain the facility. Many groups were using the pool on a regular basis, but the adult swim team had enough people that were heavily invested in the pool that they were willing to give of their free time to keep it open. They formed the not for profit group, Friends of Central Pool, Inc., and have been managing every aspect of the facility since 1997.

This includes raising money for maintenance, expansion, labor, utilities, and everything else that an Olympic size pool would need. Renamed the Forest Park Aquatic Center, the volunteers have zealously managed and valiantly expanded the pool, so that now it is used by swim teams, water polo teams, and diving teams, and regularly hosts youth and adult competitions having regional and national influence.

In the early years of NASTI’s management, there were various fundraisers, including a silent auction in the early 2000s. One of the items available for bid happened to be diving lessons with coach John Wingfield. The successful bidders were a family from Noblesville who gifted the lessons to a friend of the family with a passion and some talent for diving. That young man was David Boudia, now America’s most decorated diver since Greg Louganis. He was a 2012 gold medalist in 10 m platform diving in London and has won three other Olympic medals, including a silver in the 10 m synchronized diving with partner Steele Johnson, also a Hoosier. He trained relentlessly at the Forest Park Aquatic Center, so without NASTI………

Remember – it has never rained on the Noblesville Brewfest. photo credit: Indiana On Tap

This Year’s Noblesville Craft Beer Festival. The Noblesville Brewfest actually grew out of that same silent auction fundraiser, and the auction is now a venerated part of the festival each year. Begun in 2009, Noblesville is one of the older festivals in the state; this year’s 8th edition promises the same eccentric choices of beer, the expected great choices of beer and food, as well as a few new items. One of which is especially exciting for Walter. This year’s band is The Doo! Band, out of Indianapolis. Walter loved this band at the Taps and Touchdowns festival this past December.

In the years that the festival has been held, organizer Greg Baker has seen a progression in Indiana’s drinking tastes and habits. Greg said, “You used to see a lot of Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada at our gatherings. Now it’s Grapefruit Jungle and Zombie Dust.” But that doesn’t mean that the festival is geared to beer geeks alone. Casual beer fans, as well as fans of ciders and wines will find much to like at Noblesville. There will be about 25 breweries pouring drafts of their own beers, as well as cideries and a separate winery tent. This, along with the distributor donations will bring the craft beer choices to over 300 – a good day no matter how geeky a drinker you might be.

NASTI, in addition to volunteering to run the aquatic center, supplies volunteers to the beer festival. Thank them if you get a chance and ask them about their craft beer or wine preferences. There will be a great variance in their answers, but that’s what makes craft beer festivals as fundraisers so great. You don’t have to be in the industry, or even a fan to realize and appreciate how much good craft beer and some dedicated volunteers can do. As Greg put it, “Without the volunteer effort at Forest Park Aquatic Center, there would not be a public pool in Noblesville. There has been a public pool in Noblesville for almost 100 years. We won’t let this pool close on our watch.”

The Doo! Band – do you even need another reason to go to a festival? image credit: That Place Bar & Grill

Six food vendors are tap for this year’s event, so plan on staying for the entire festival. In what I think is a must for every festival but often falls through the cracks, free bottled water will be offered to every attendee. As Walter can attest, you cannot overestimate the importance of hydrating at a festival – it’s at least as important as wearing clean underwear in case you’re in an automobile accident. Thanks Mom.

Blind Pig Confessions will be broadcasting from the festival – which in no uncertain terms means that this beer fest has hit the big time. Stop by and say hi to Cowboy, Brendan, and Jordan, maybe you’ll end up talking craft beer with them for the podcast. By all accounts, this is going to be a very enjoyable day – and remember, it has NEVER rained on this festival. OK, that might be the kiss of death, but at least at Noblesville you will have four huge tents and shelters to help you keep enjoying the festival – it’s not like you’ll be out in the middle of a field getting rained on.

Tickets for the Noblesville Brewfest are available via ticketleap.com. Early bird ticket sales are closed, but GA tickets are $40 in advance, or $50 the day of the event. Online ticket purchasers will receive (from the Brewfest after the event) a coupon code for 50% off a Tasting Society Marketplace membership from Indiana On Tap. Designated driver bracelets are free, just ask at the gate.

 
 

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