Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser (second from right) enjoys a cocktail with wife Dolores and friends David Wiwchar, organizer of the Port Alberni Rotary Club Craft Beer & Spirits and wife Andrea (red dress) at the inaugural Craft Beer & Spirits organized by the Qualicum Beach Rotary Club last week. — Michael Briones photo

Inaugural festival raises everyone’s spirits

Organizer Qualicum Beach Rotary Club plans to host it again next year

A very spirited event took place at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre last week.

The inaugural Craft Beer &Spirits Festival, organized by the evening club of the Qualicum Beach Rotary Club, was a huge success, organizers said.

It was held on the eve of Canada’s 150 anniversary on June 30th and was called “Raise a Glass to Canada.” Organizer Jim Bennett said the festival was a great way of toasting the nation’s birthday. As well, it marked the 70th birthday of the QB Rotary Club.

The event featured craft beer of varying kinds, concocted at breweries across Vancouver Island and BC. Among them was the new Parksville Arrowsmith Brewing Company that opened in April.

Bennett said the result of their inaugural offering was more than what they expected.

“We had a very good night,” said Bennett. “It was well-attended. A lot of people left with smiles on their faces and had a good evening. And it wasn’t just the beer.”

One of the main features aside from the craft breweries and distilleries, Bennett said, was the free food served by three local food providers – Bomé Cheese, the Qualicum Beach Inn and Pacific Brimm Café and Catering.

“They were quite popular that night,” said Bennett, who added Rotary would have had more restaurants at the festival but because it was on the eve of Canada 150, there were some that could not attend.

“Next year we would have to look at whether we want to hold it on the same weekend night or not, but that’s up for discussion,” said Bennett.

The inaugural festival sold nearly 400 tickets and included a raffle that raised $2,000.

“All the proceeds, we disburse those to local needy projects,” said Bennett.

Following the beer and wine tasting, local band Big Daddy entertained the crowd with live music.

Bennett said the success of this year’s debut festival is enough motivation for the Rotary Club to hold one again next year.