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On Saturday, June 6, two things that just work together will create a fun, entertaining event for Fayetteville residents as the 12th Annual Blues n Brews returns to Festival Park. Blues n Brews is the annual fundraiser to support the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, and, if the success of the past 11 years is a basis for predicting the success of this year’s event, it looks to be a homerun.

The annual event, organized by a core group of 14 volunteers, takes about a year to put together. It is not easy trying to top an already successful event, but that’s what the volunteers have been able to do each year. Karen Tisdale, the chairman of this year’s event, hopes to keep that tradition alive.

The keys to success, according to Tisdale, are great music and great beer. She, and her dedicated volunteers, have both wrapped up.

Thirty-eight different brewing companies are represented in this year’s line up for a total of about 110 different beers. That’s a lot of pouring and tasting for event attendees. 

“Our local distributors are huge advocates for this event and for the Cape Fear Regional Theatre,” explained Tisdale, noting that R.A. Jeffreys, Healy Wholesale and Empire Distributors have brought a lot of craft brewers to the event, as well as independent and smaller brewers who could not be present otherwise.

R.A. Jeffreys, the oldest distributor in the state, distributes Annheuser Busch, as well as a number of craft breweries from around the nation, including Blue Point Brewing Company, Kona Brewing Company, Red Hook Brewery and Sweetwater Brewery. In North Carolina, they represent Aviator Brewing Company, Big Boss Brewing Company, Carolina Brewery, Good Vibes Brewing Company, Kind Beers, Lone Rider Brewing Company, Natty Greene’s Brewing Company and Triangle Brewing Company. 

Healy Wholesale, a Fayetteville based company, distributes a number of beers including Yuengling, Coors and Miller products. Additionally, the wholesaler represents a number of smaller brewers, including Crazy Mountain Brewery, Foothills Brewery, Anchor Brewing and Johnny Bootlegger.

Empire Distributors, based out of Durham, brings a number of beers to the table, including Samuel Adams Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewery and Breckenridge Brewery, as well as a number of small North Carolina breweries. 

Tisdale said working with the three distributors, a diverse group of beers will be available, including beers from Asheville, Hope Mills, Angier and Holly Springs, as well as breweries from Mexico, Chicago and Pennsylvania.

“We will also have a number of smaller craft beers represented,”said Tisdale. “We have a very loyal group of brewers who come to the event every year, but we have also added new vendors this year.”

One of the newest brewers added to the list is Blind Squirrel Brewery, based out of Plum Tree, N.C. Blind Squirrel operates four separate three-barrel systems, giving them a range of diversity that is unsurpassed in the High Country. What started as a true nano-brewery has now evolved into a micro-setup that is unlike any other in the state. 

Also new to the event is Hi-Wire Brewing, an Asheville-based brewery, which strives to be as independent and authentic as possible, while maintaining an approachability to its beers. Located in Downtown Asheville’s Brew District, Hi-Wire Brewing embraces its craft from top to bottom. Hi-Wire features four approachable year-round “Main Attraction” beers — Prime Time Pale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown and Hi-Wire Lager, as well as a rotating selection of seasonal offerings, as well as “Side Show Seasonals.”

Beer is only part of what makes the event so successful, the other half is the Blues, which Tisdale promises will not disappoint. This year three bands will perform, including Fayetteville’s own Chris Hurst and String Theory, which promises to perform authentic “dirty blues.” 

Also performing is E.B. Tharrington and 42 East, a blues/Funk/Soul band from Raleigh, featuring E.B. Tharrington on guitar and vocals, Dave Albery-on bass and vocals and Dan Stahl on drums and vocals.

The main entertainment, comes from deep in the bayous of Louisiana. Tullie Brae, according to critics and peers alike “has the praiseworthy vocal distinction and stage charisma that creates an unforgettable show.” She is a soulful blues singer, whose roots are tied to gospel music. She plays the piano, drums and guitar.  Touring with The Medicine Man Revue, Brae has played all over the south and has opened for the late great B.B. King and has shared the stage with greats like Bonnie Raitt, Chicago Rhythm and Blues kings and Big Jack Johnson. 

With a great lineup of blues and brews Tisdale is hoping to match and beat last year’s attendance which was right at 3,000 people. 

“Last year we had a little more than 3,000 people come through the gates. We certainly hope to have that and a little bit more,” she said. “We have a little more beer and are expanding the footprint. But we also have a cap, which isn’t that much higher than last year. We want the event to be a good experience, so we are very aware of size capacity and people coming through gates. The max we are looking at is 3,400 people.” 

That number is, by-in-large, adults over the age of 21. While children are not forbidden from the event, Tisdale points out that there are no children’s activities or event going on.

“It is largely a 21 plus event,” she said. “This is a crowd that wants to sample beer and listen to great music.”

They also want to eat, and Tisdale and crew have that covered as well. Tisdale noted that the list of food vendors includes: the Honey Baked Ham Cafe, Hot Diggidy Dog, Mac’s Speed Shop, Pappa John’s, R Burger and Scoops, Sonny Incs. Southern Chicken, Shrimp and Fish Fry and YumYum Chicken on a Stick. She added that all vendors are reasonably priced.

Tisdale touts the VIP Ticket as the biggest bang for your buck. The VIP Ticket gives attendees an hour earlier entrance, which gives VIP ticket holders more time to sample with fewer people in line. In addition, VIP ticket holders have access to the VIP tent, which has a special concert, goodie bags with coupons for free Blues n Brews items, free concession items, a T-shirt, as well as a buffet dinner provided by Carolina Ale House and an evening appetizer bar. Additionally, VIP ticket holders get to participate in private pours, vote on the Best of Show and have access to a private game area. 

“As a VIP ticket holder, you can come to the event and basically not spend another dime,” she Tisdale. “You are covered for the whole night.”

VIP tickets can be purchased online at www.cfrt.org or via the CFRT Box office at 323-4234, and are $75. General admission tickets are $35, with advance purchase and $40 at the gate. General Admission Tickets for non-drinkers are $15. Active duty military get a $5 discount on general admission tickets. The gates open at 4 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and 5 p.m. for all others. Those who have advance tickets will avoid the line and come through a separate gate.

For more information about the Blues n Brews, visit the website at www.cfrt.org/blues-and-brews.


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