MACOMB — Discerning beer lovers had a chance to step out of the cold afternoon into the warm festive atmosphere of the 10th annual Beerfest at The Forum Saturday afternoon.
The event was hosted by the Western Illinois University Performing Arts Society (PAS) to raise funds for the PAS and its annual programming.
Julie Baker, director of development at the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC), said this year’s event attracted about 400 beer lovers who were able to sample drinks from 17 different local and regional breweries.
“We have breweries here that are representing themselves who brought all of their own product, and then we have tables where breweries are represented but they don’t have staff,” Baker said, “and that’s where our volunteers come in and help work for those tables. We do have 17 tables this year, which is similar to last year, and the year before.”
Event goers could sample beers, partake in a raffle, mingle with other guests and support the arts. Some chose to purchase a VIP pass, which allowed them to adjourn to the second floor gallery to sample bourbons and a lunch style buffet.
Jimmy John’s donated food enjoyed at the event, giving away sandwiches on the first floor to the first 350 guests. Upstairs, Hy-Vee donated bratwurst, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut for the people who purchased a VIP wrist band.
“The funds that are raised go towards supporting the PAS, and so we work to advance and enhance the arts in Macomb,” Baker said. “So the money raised today will go towards the Youth Performing Arts Series (YPAS)” as well as grants for WIU students, faculty and community members and scholarships, she said.
In total, the PAS donates about $90,000 back to the community every year. The annual Beerfest fundraiser is just one event to raise money for the funds reinvested back into the community to support the arts in Macomb. Beerfest usually raises about $8,000 a year.
 “This year was no exception,” Baker said.
To help raise money, some of the breweries represented at Beerfest provided raffle items. “A few of them brought things like banners and signs,” Baker said.
Sam Dimmick, from Des Moines, Iowa, won a raffle for a KCCO Resignation Brewery banner. Dimmick said he felt great about winning and said he preferred the porters and stouts he had sampled during Beerfest, particularly BrewDog and Iron Spike.
Many attendees brought their friends from out of town, including Emily Hart from Quincy. Hart said she has sampled “quite a few” different brew. One of her favorites is Odell’s but she also enjoyed Iron Spike. Tagging along with Hart was her friend Krista Trone from Canton.
Trone said the Beerfest was “great” and that she had tried some “really fruity” beers from Owl’s Brew.
“I wasn’t a huge beer drinker before, but I am just kind of turning into one in the past couple of years,” she said. Trone said the fruity drinks were kind of “girly” but she enjoyed them.
When asked how much of their annually accrued money will be going towards the planned Center for the Performing Arts, Baker said, “Right now, none of the money we raise will be going to it. So, that money is being held by the state of Illinois, the $89 million that is in the appropriated budget, and until that money is released, we won’t start fundraising for that building.”
“But, I can say that part of the Performing Arts Society mission, when that Center is built, will be to support things that go on in that building,” Baker said.

Reach Christopher Ginn by email at chrisginn1978@mcdonoughvoice.com or find him on Facebook.