22 Apr Rock The Junction in Westfield Really Rocks for Charity
by Indiana On Tap editorial staff
When Jon Knight opened Grand Junction Brewing in Westfield in 2014, the genesis of the project and it’s raison d’etre was about giving back to the community and helping Westfield progress as a downtown. Shortly after they opened, Knight and company started thinking about how to make a tangible difference in the community. Since then, they have held and participated in numerous charity events and have put together a top notch festival that benefits local charities.
This year’s version of Rock The Junction (May 19th, 1pm – 5pm, 110 S. Union St.) continues the theme of showing off Westfield and helping its citizens at the same time. The inaugural festival was held in 2016 as way to both bring people in to town for a day and as a way to benefit a local cause. Jon decided that a local rock music festival with craft beer was a great way to bring the people in and show off downtown Westfield. The charity partners that first year were Indy Honor Flights to take veterans to Washington DC for a special ceremony and a day of memorial visits, and also the Westfield Youth Assistance Program.
That first festival drew over 1000 people, with even more attendees at the second festival in 2017. That second year, and continuing with this year’s event, the charity partner was/is the Grand Junction Brewing Co. Scholarship Fund. This fund provides money for two Westfield High School graduating seniors in what Grand Junction identified as an underserved population – people that want to study at a trade or vocational school.
Grand Junction agrees with Mike Rowe’s philosophy that a country which doesn’t make things will not thrive. They saw that a relative paucity of scholarship funds are allocated to those students earning associate degrees and trade certificates as compared to bachelors degrees and they decided that starting the scholarship fund was a way to bring attention to the subject and to help local students out. But they are an equal opportunity scholarship fund; one scholarship is targeted for trade/vocational training, while another is awarded to a student studying for a traditional four year degree.
Westfield’s history over the past 175 years is steeped in manufacturing, and Grand Junction sees themselves as a modern day extension of that history. Crafting and packaging beer has it’s feet in manufacturing, art, and science, as well as being part of the service economy of today. More than half a decade ago the city fathers decided that service and hospitality would be a focus in trying to revitalize the downtown Westfield, and Grand Junction prides themselves as representing the best of both the past and the future of the city.
Grand Junction shows that a business can both manufacture and serve the community. Their scholarship fund contributes to this by supporting people who make things, not just learn theory. In the end, this will make Westfield a stronger community economically.
This is the kind of forward thinking that people will be supporting when they buy tickets for the 3rd Annual Rock The Junction. But what does the festival look like exactly? It’s a smaller, more intimate affair, capped at about 1200 attendees so that people will have a chance to talk to their brewery hosts. The festival is held right in front of the original brewpub on Union St., so by all means take the time to visit this 1860s building that Grand Junction renovated completely, while still keeping the feel of the original space. Oh – and ask about the ghost.
The city has been very supportive of the festival by blocking off Union Street to make room for the stage and the brewers. This year they have made a strong gesture by moving the city’s Grand Junction Derby soap box car races to the same weekend as Rock The Junction. Furthermore, the city is planning on removal of two buildings in the near future to provide more parking for downtown events like Rock The Junction.
At one end of the festival is the raised stage (supplied by the city of Noblesville) for all the bands. This year there will be four different bands playing 45 minute-1 hour sets. Craig Thurston from Noblesville will be providing music inspired by his influencers (from Hank Sr. to Jerry Garcia) , while Chasing Katie will be more rock from the 80s to today. Abby Something will next gives us their take on soulful rock, while Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers will headline the festival with indie folk rock.
The music will be non-stop, But as Jon says, “In the end, the festival is all about the beer.” Great local breweries have been lined up for this year’s festival, including Deer Creek, Taxman, Bier Brewery, Broad Ripple Brewpub will be present, along with others – keep checking the website as breweries are added. Newer breweries like Moontown, Tin Man-Kokomo (yes, they make their own beer), and Centerpoint will give attendees a chance to beer from people they probably haven’t seen before. The great thing about the choices that Rock The Junction has made is that all the breweries are dedicated to good communication with the attendees. They want to talk to you and explain their beer and their philosophy.
Besides being very interactive, these breweries represent those that have won many medals in regional, national and international competitions in the last few years. So the beer is really good – beer not your thing? There will be craft wines there too. Blackhawk Winery in Sheridan has been around for almost a decade, and Urban Vines was a winery before they recently added craft brewing. Try the dry hopped Chardonnay from Urban Vines – it’s the best of both worlds. And there will be food too, from Joe Hsu’s 5280 Bistro truck, to The Big Cheeze, to the La Tortugas truck that spends a good deal of time at the Grand Junction Taproom.
Also new for this year is the addition of a homebrew club to pour. Foam Blowers of Indianapolis (FBI) will be on hand to give you healthy tastes of their beers. I have to tell you that this often one of the highlights of craft beer festivals – ask people who have attended festivals and events that have featured amateur beer makers. One reason for this is that home brewers don’t have to worry so much about ingredient coasts because they only make very small batches of beer, so it allows them to get crazy with ingredients and styles.
The beer and the music bring many people to Westfield, and it’s all for a good cause. A festival like this costs a pretty penny to put on, but Grand Junction brewing has a strong commitment to helping their local community; therefore, all the net proceeds of this festival go to the scholarship fund. Grand Junction knows it’s worth it in the end, and this isn’t even close to the only work they do for the community during the year. Sponsoring events, holding fundraisers for programs benefiting ill children, and participating numerous neighborhood events are all ways in which Grand Junction shows that it is a leader of community goodwill in town.
In addition, the idea of showcasing the community via this festival is working – Westfield is just about the fastest growing community in Indiana and the downtown has undergone a huge renaissance since 2015 or so. In fact, other communities have come to talk to Westfield about their success, and there are several example of successful beer festivals that have followed Westfield’s lead.
The spirit of Grand Junction’s relationship to Westfield, to their community, and to craft beer can be summed up in their tagline, “Local. Independent. Handcrafted.” They have a home they love in Westfield, they have built themselves up as an independent company doing it on their own, and they make things by hand. Through Rock The Junction, the brewery aids the LOCAL community, helps individuals to become INDEPENDENT contributors, and champions the idea of students learning to HANDCRAFT products in the age of the service economy.