uac053012001.jpg Cassandra Vallery is known for portraying awesome characters on the stage of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. But for the past nine years, she’s also been known as the driving force behind the Blues-n-Brews Festival, the CFRT’s largest fundraiser. This year is no exception.

“Each year the festival has gotten a little bit bigger and a little bit better,” said Vallery. “And we hope next year, for the 10th anniversary to pull out all the stops.”

But don’t worry, this year’s festival, which is slated for Saturday, June 2 at Festival Park, is shaping up to be the party of the summer. Last year more than 2,300 people turned up to taste some of the finest beers in the southeast, and Vallery expects to exceed that number this year.

“We have invited brewers from all over the Southeast and we will have at least 100 different beers to sample at the festival,” she said.

In addition to the wide assortment of brewers who will be on hand, there will also be a number of food vendors on hand ready to tempt your taste buds after you’ve made a round of the beer tents.

And, for the first time this year, if you are not a beer drinker, you can purchase a $15 non-drinker ticket and then purchase wine at the CFRT’s tent.

“I had so many people tell me that either their husbands or boyfriends drink beer but they don’t drink it. They’ve asked why we don’t’ have wine, so this year, we are adding wine to the event,” Vallery explained.

And, if you are the designated driver, don’t worry, there will also be a Monster tent on hand where you can drink your favorite energy drinks; a coffee bar where you can drink your favorite blend; and a cigar bar where you can smoke your favorite stogie.

But at the end of the day, the event is about the beer. For $30 in advance at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre Box Office or via the website (www.cfrt.org) or $35 at the gate, you will receive a six-ounce sampling glass. With the glass, you can visit every brewer in the park and sample all of their beers.

“The brewers love coming to this event and they come back year after year,” said Vallery. “We also get great support from our wholesalers like Healy Wholesale, R.A. Jeffreys, Mutual Distribution Company and Empire Distributors. The beer people really make this event a success.”

While the wholesalers will have their commercial label beers on tap, the brewers will have their custom crafts on hand to sample. A sample listing of brewereries participating includes: Carolina Brewery, Natty Greene’s, Sierra Nevada, Blue Moon, Sweetwater, Big Boss, Aviator Brewery, Huske Hardware, Mash House, World Brews, Bluepoint and Magic Hat.

There is also the second half of the festival: the Blues. Performing this year are Nita B and Her Swingin’ Soiree, Elliott and the Untouchables and Chris Hurst.

The event runs from 5-10 p.m.; however, if you would like to sample before the crowd arrives, you can purchase a VIP ticket for $50. The VIP tickets allows you to enter the festival an hour early. You also receive a picnic lunch in the shade of the VIP tent, as well as a private concert by Chris Hurst and snacks throughout the evening.

This is an adults-only event, so be sure and plan early for a baby sitter, as there are no children’s activities.

For tickets and more information, visit the theatre’s website at www.cfrt.org or call the Cape Fear Regional Theatre Box Office at 323-4233.

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