By Pat Maurer
The Clare BrewFest, which began in Clare in 2011 as part of the events during the Old 27 Classic Car Tour, has grown so much that this year it will be a stand-alone event planned, organized and presented by the Clare Rotary Club.
The adults-only BrewFest is scheduled for this Saturday, August 10 from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Fourth Street across from the Clare water tower. The location is also the future site for the historic old Clare Railroad Depot.
The BrewFest’s goal is to provide craft beer tasting and education to the Central Michigan area. “We believe the great State of Michigan has some of the best breweries in the world,” their flyer states. “Our goal is to bring the best brew in the State to our area!”
Both beer and wine connoisseurs will be pleased. Over 120 Michigan craft brews are expected to be featured for tasting, and for the first time, at least 15 Michigan wineries will be represented as well. Craft root beer will also be available.
This year’s BrewFest has another goal as well. Funds raised by the event this year will be used towards the purchase of a new K-9 police dog for the area.
Clare Police Chief Brian Gregory and his partner, eleven-year-old “Swiper” will both be retiring as K-9 officers at the end of the year. “Swiper is my fifth and last dog,” he said.
Gregory, who will continue as Clare Police Chief, said, “It is a young man’s job, and we will be looking for a replacement K-9 officer to take over with a new four-legged partner after the first of the year.”
Gregory, who has been chief since last January, has been with the Clare Police Department since 1999. He was previously with Shiawasse County, also as a K-9 officer there, for 16 years. Swiper also has had a long career. He came to the United States from Holland and was originally trained by Gregory for an Antrim County department where he served for three years. He has been at Clare for an additional four years. “Most of his adult life,” said Gregory. He will spend his retirement as a member of Gregory’s family.
A new police dog, probably a German Shepard, Gregory said, will be purchased from Europe and trained as a dual-purpose dog here for narcotics detection, tracking and other duties.
The funds needed to purchase the new dog are estimated at $8,000, but training won’t cost anything. Gregory, a dog trainer for the past 33 years, has been the owner and trainer for Northern Michigan K-9 since 1999 and will donate the 6-8 week training for the new K-9 dog.
Swiper will be featured at the Clare BrewFest and will give demonstrations at 2:30 and 5:00 p.m.
The Kari Lynch Band and Third Coast Steel Band will also provide entertainment for the event. In their three years together, the Kari Lynch Band has become one of Michigan’s most talked about and sought after country bands, touring extensively and making frequent trips to Nashville to write songs and play shows.
The Third coast Steel Band, formed in 1996, has also performed extensively throughout Michigan. They provide an eclectic mix of Soca, Reggae, Latin, Jazz and Pop music.
Top sponsors for the BrewFest include title sponsor Cops and Doughnuts, Isabella Bank Investment and Trust Services, Clare Rotary, Central Restoration, Clare Auto Sales and Clare Visitor’s Bureau. In addition there are ten Level 2 sponsors and four Level three sponsors.
Clare Rotary President Elect Steven Barnes said, “Several of our sponsors have contributed significant man-hours, supplies and equipment for the event as well.” He continued, “It is a lot of work, but we are all looking forward to the BrewFest!”
Tickets for the event are available online or at the gate and include five tastings. Additional tastings can be purchased at the event and there is a special reduced entry fee for non-drinkers. Remember you must be 21 years old to attend the event.
For more information see the website at www.ClareBrewFest.com.