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Since moving to the area six years ago, Rob Stack has been engaged in his community through organizations like the Essex Rotary Club and the Essex Community Foundation, which holds its second annual Cheers for Charity Beerfest on Saturday, March 9. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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As long as you’re over 21, Rob Stack would like you to have a drink, albeit a very small one: two ounces of beer in a plastic cup. But there’s catch: you can fill up that two-ounce cup up again, again, and again.
What’s more, you can feel good doing it, and not just from the rosy glow of the beverage. You will also be supporting the Essex Community Fund at its second annual Cheers for Charity Beerfest fundraiser on Saturday, March 9 at the Essex Steam Train.
There will be some 24 different producers participating, up from the 15 were showcased last year. Among them are local breweries like Little House from Chester, Thimble Island and Stony Creek from Branford, Soundview Brewing from Old Lyme, and 30 Mile Brewing from Old Saybrook. Breweries from other areas of Connecticut include Knight and Day Brewing from Milford, Epicure Brewing from Norwich, and East Rock Brewing from New Haven.
Rob located participating brewers through Facebook and also through a local brewing association, MASH, the Maniacal Association of Shoreline Homebrewers.
“There will be all different styles. India Pale Ale, cloudy, hoppy, New England style. There are so many varieties that you can always find a beer you enjoy,” he says.
Locating the breweries is work as well as play for Rob. He is a loan representative working long-distance for a Philadelphia bank and specializes in the financing of business equipment including brewing paraphernalia. He also works part-time as a realtor with PageTaft in Essex.
He has visited all the participating breweries and sampled their products on site. In fact, going to beer festivals is something he and his wife Keely enjoy. They’ve traveled as much as 350 miles to attend the gatherings. Still, Rob says there is a difference between the upcoming Cheers for Charity and some of the larger events he has attended.
“With so many people, you don’t get to talk to any of the brewers or learn about the beers,” he says. “That’s what so many people liked about ours last year.”
According to Rob, many of the people who attended Cheers for Charity last year were interested in the techniques and the ingredients the brewers used.
“There is an education component to this; it’s not just about wanting to come and drink beer,” he says.
Last year, he adds there were no incidents caused by attendees having sampled a few too many offerings.
In its first year, Cheers for Charity sold out, with a total attendance of 200.
“We had people from 21 to 90, from all over, from Rhode Island, Massachusetts,” Rob says.
This year, the attendance will be capped at 250 people. There are both VIP and regular tickets, at $60 and $45 respectively. The VIP experience allows for extra hour of beer sampling before other attendees are admitted and a voucher that can be exchanged for a meal at the food wagons, featuring standards from subs and fries to grilled cheese sandwiches and lobster macaroni and cheese. Attendees with regular admission tickets can purchase the same fare at the food trucks.
Tickets for the event will not be sold at the door but must be bought in advance at the community fund website (www.essexcommunityfund.org). Structuring the purchases that way, Rob said, ensures that attendees, who must bring photo identification with them, will be 21 or over.
Blues on the Rocks will be the featured band for the event and one of the members of that band is Greg Shook, president of the Essex Savings Bank. Shook said he has no way of checking this for sure, but he thinks he is one of the few bank presidents in the country playing the bass guitar in a rock band.
“I like doing things like this, seeing the smiles, and we’re always excited to be helping a good cause,” he said.
The Essex Community Fund supports local organizations for residents of all ages and many different needs including Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, the Essex Fuel Assistance Program, Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, and the Valley Shore YMCA.
Rob comes from Bucks Country in Pennsylvania and met Keely, a native of Connecticut, when she was living in the Philadelphia area. Her family owns Porky Pete’s BBQ in Essex. Rob and Keely moved to this area some six years ago and, he joined the Essex Community Fund four years ago.
“I got here; I didn’t know anybody so I looked around for ways I could be active in the community,” he says.
Now, as president, he would like to create a manual of best procedures so future presidents will have some guidance when they take over the job. Rob is also a member of the Essex Rotary Club and is part of the horseshoe league in Deep River. In 2017, his three-person team won the league championship.
Rob said he suggested Cheers for Charity as a fundraiser for the Essex Community Fund, but with the permitting and organization, involved it took almost a year of work before the first festival last year. At that event, Rob was so busy he had little time to indulge in the main attraction: having a sip of the various brews. He hopes to have a bit of time to remedy that this year,
Cheers for Charity
Cheers for Charity, a fundraiser for the Essex Community Fund, is on Saturday, March 9 at the Essex Steam Train, 1 Railroad Avenue, Essex. Gates open at noon for VIP ticketholders and 1 p.m. for general admission. Event ends at 4 p.m.
No tickets sold at the door; for tickets and information, visit www.essexcommunityfund.org.
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