02 May South Bend JA Wine & Beer Fest Grows for 2022 – Go Be Part of a Great Event for a Great Cause
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
Friday nights are the official start of the weekend, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off your weekend than with a beerfest. Oh wait, yes I can… a beerfest at a baseball park which is also a fundraiser for a great cause!
The JA Wine & Beer Fest in South Bend on Friday evening, May 20 is a good example of a festival for a cause. Junior Achievement serving St. Joseph County gets more than 1/3 of its yearly funding from this event, which is used directly to support the mission of JA. Development Director Dani Elgas told me, “The programs we offer are focused around financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship…basically we are helping kids think about their future and have a plan!” Given the complicated nature of the growing gig economy, the rising coasts of college and the uncertainty of the economy, this is a laudable goal and worthy of being supported.
The festival was begun in 2019 following the model of the JA Wine & Beer Festival in Fort Wayne, a very successful event. Dani said that the event has grown each year (given the Covid restrictions of 2020), and it really broke through last year as a major event. Over 1100 people enjoyed the festival in May 2021, and nearly $90,000 was raised for the community-supported programs that JA runs for over 10,000 students throughout St. Joseph County.
Saying JA is 100% community-supported is no idle statement; without the support of the attendees, the vendors, and the local business sponsors, the festival would not be possible and neither would the JA programs. Dani said, “Our Presenting Sponsor, Lippert, has been with us since the inception of this event. They not only support JA financially, but they provide numerous classroom volunteers to deliver the work that we do all year long. Smith & Associates is our Platinum Sponsor again this year and their support is driven by the work they do as financial advisors…they truly believe in the mission of JA and see the need for all students to have an understanding of money management, starting at a young age.”
More than 40 local companies and groups worked to support the JA Wine & Beer festival, not the least of which were the South Bend Cubs and Four Winds Field where the festival is held each year. Dani told me, “The partnership with the South Bend Cubs is phenomenal. There is a lot of energy and momentum in the downtown South Bend area and the expansion of the stadium over the past several years has been instrumental in this growth.” She added, “The South Bend Cubs have been venturing out for several years and hosting all kinds of events – people love to come to the ballpark, even when there isn’t a game! Their management team is very professional and a joy to work with.”
It’s great that some many local entities support JA, and with your ticket purchase, you can too. But what will you get for the price of admission? How about unlimited samples of beer, wine & spirits from 35+ great breweries, wineries, and distilleries, plus specialty drinks like seltzers and plenty of non-alcoholic drinks for the DDs. A slight shift in vendor approaches this year means that the attendees will be able to see many producers that they haven’t had a chance to drink before.
For example, many people will be seeing a home brewery called Tarnished Hollow Brewing for the first time. Take my advice and just get back in line after you get your first taste of his beer – you’re going to want more. There’ll be even more great homebrew at the festival from the Marshall County Brew Club and Kosciusko Kettleheads. You should be a fan of home brew, their batches are small enough that they can add some really high end and funky ingredients into their beer.
As for commercial breweries, new additions include places like 10-56 Brewing in Knox (great name – the co-owner was an Indiana State Motorcycle Policeman, and 10-56 is the police code for inebriated pedestrian), Kekionga Craft from Fort Wayne, Ledgeview Brewing from Warsaw, and Dot & Line Brewing from Fort Wayne. Those breweries and cideries alone are a great festival, but you’ve also got all the wineries, and some wonderful distilleries bringing product for unlimited samples.
All tickets include unlimited samples. A general admission ticket you can get into Four Winds Field at 6pm and have plenty of time to circumambulate the entire ball park and the many vendors, along with getting some food and enjoying the DJ and selfie booth. But the real deal is in getting a VIP ticket that will get you in an hour earlier. Besides having much shorter lines to navigate and more time to talk to the great producers, there will be special wines from The Cellar Wine Bar & Kitchen, spirits from Coppercraft Distillery, complimentary appetizers and dessert from The Ragamuffin just for the VIP ticket holders underneath the VIP tents. Not interested in the full VIP treatment but want to get in early? The Premium Ticket is what you are looking for – just a $10 upcharge to get into the festival at 5pm.
Three or four hours on a spring evening at the ballpark enjoy craft beverages is the perfect way to start a weekend, bring a bunch of friends to spend time and it just got better than perfect. And all for a great cause – the JA Wine & Beer Fest marks the beginning of the summer beer festival, it’s highly advised that you get your tickets soon at https://www.southbendwineandbeer.com/.