|By Michelle Kealey|
WESTFIELD The Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum are asking the community to taste some beer on Sept. 16 to raise money to support the library and its programs.
The Friends group, which has raised over $100,000 for the library since it was created about eight years ago, is hosting the Beer Fest to continue their efforts in supporting the city's library.
Al Guagliardo, president of the Friends organization, said that the group needs to host a variety of events to generate additional funding for the library.
He explained that the Westfield Athenaeum is not funded directly by the city and is "surviving on a grant" that is old.
The funds raised by the organization are used for areas in the library that need help.
Guagliardo said that the Friends have helped expand the children's section of the library, purchased computers and other things so that the library "does not have to dip into their own funds."
Although it has not been an annual event, this is the third Beer Fest for the Friends.
Guagliardo said the event had done well in the past and the group decided to bring it back.
He added that the group did not have a "good" place to host the event in past years and they almost got rained out the last time the event took place.
The event will include a variety of beer for participants to taste. Guagliardo said that there will be different microbrews that are "not just the average beer." He said, for example, there will be a blackberry beer.
In addition to the beer, Guagliardo said that the event will include a variety of food such as meatballs, Italian sausage, chili, chicken, knockwurst, bratwurst, kielbasa, hamburgers and hot dogs.
He also said that there will be a variety of prizes that were donated by local merchants. Some of the prizes include gift certificates and a television donated by Manny's TV.
Guagliardo said the Friends chose the Sons of Erin Pavilion as the location for the event because it is a place where people can "hide under" if it rains.
According to Guagliardo, the Friends have raised about $2,000 during past Beer Fests, but he expects to raise more this year.
He said that there is less overhead this year because it is at the Sons of Erin. In the past, the organization has had to rent tents and other equipment such as grills for the event.
In addition to the Beer Fest, the Friends host a book sale and wine tasting to raise funds to support the library and Guagliardo said he hopes to expand with more fund-raising in the future. He said that he had been thinking about a golf tournament or clambake/steak roast as possible future fund-raisers.
Tickets for the Beer Fest are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Guagliardo said that he prefers that people purchase tickets in advance so that he has an idea of the number of people who may participate.
Tickets are available at the Westfield Athenaeum or at Super Phipps liquor store on Main Street, which is a sponsor of the event.
The Sons of Erin Pavilion is located on Williams Street. The Beer Fest will take place Sept. 16 from 5-8 p.m.