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All it Takes is Beer to Keep NACC Afloat

By Darryl McPherson

There was a huge crowd at the NACC’s first tax-free Art Of Beer event. Beer, like art, is always so much better when you are not picking the pockets of taxpayers. Congratulations to the NACC and may they prosper and create wondrous art, but not at the taxpayers’ expense.

Stirred by the loss of city funding, the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center pulled out all of the stops in promoting its annual fundraiser, the Art of Beer. From all outward appearances, it seems to have been very successful.

Bob Drozdowski, the NACC’s director of operations and marketing noted that presale tickets for the Friday night event reached almost 300 before the doors even opened.

“Every year, the event has grown,” he boasted.

Pulling in thousands of dollars in door sales and attracting several hundred thirsty patrons, the Art of Beer certainly had an impact.

With over 20 vendors offering beer tastings and bar food offerings, the former Niagara Falls High School cast itself more like a gallery than an educational institution. The halls were filled with beer and food enthusiasts from around Western New York and beyond.

Try-It Distributing Company featured six brands, some from outside the area. Lindsey Styborski, the Western New York representative for Brooklyn Brewery, happily returned for the Art of Beer Festival. “This is the second year we’ve been here,” she said. She felt it was important to feature a true New York beer and to promote cultural and arts efforts.

Niagara County Legislator Jason Zona appreciated the event from a generic standpoint, not necessarily focusing on beer. “It’s something to do in Niagara Falls in the winter. People will stop here and go out down the street afterward.”

Economic development beyond the NACC itself was something anticipated by Drozdowski, who had actively encouraged local vendors to participate. The curious marriage of beer tasting and certain food types, called pairings, only served to enhance the eclectic mix.

Kyle-Lynn Esposito, the store manager of Lindt Chocolate from the Fashion Outlets of Niagara brought various truffles, and Lakea Strong from Yvonne’s Bakery and Café featured very popular brownie pops.

“Everything works well with beer,” Strong said.

The intersection of “art” and “beer,” most conceded, was in the brewing process. “The making of beer is an art,” explained Suzanne Jaszcz, a self-described ‘beer snob.’ A Buffalo resident, she and her husband came for the beer and to support the NACC.

“It’s a good thing for the price, which includes food and you don’t always get that.”

Friday night’s event also featured live music from the Lakeside Blues Band and the Bravuras. In a smaller setting upstairs, guitarist Jim Jeckovich entertained the ever-flowing crowd.

The funding controversy seemed to do nothing to hurt the festivities, and may have been a catalyst for action. Executive Director Kathie Kudela received many hugs in congratulations for her success and the growing appreciation for the NACC’s activities in the community. Many people were not aware of the services provided at the Pine Avenue location.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, who has been criticized for supporting government sponsorship for the event, was pleased with the turnout. He also felt vindicated by the concept.

“Art of Beer gets people who wouldn’t ordinarily think of donating to an arts center. They can see themselves at a beer blast, but not here,” said Dyster.

Nonetheless, Art of beer is recognized more as a social and community event that includes beer, than it is as a beer-guzzling party. These functions are carefully regulated to prevent them from spinning out of control.

With the level of activity brought out for Art of Beer, the Mayor may have been on to something.

Without a public subsidy, the event was easily a success, for both the community and the center itself. Next year, a little imagination and motivation to improve may bring about a greater level of achievement.

Beer has proven itself to be a crowd pleaser, particularly on a cold February night in Niagara Falls.

An inspiring evening in town brought to you tax-free. That’s the kind of activity we should see a lot more of around here.

"From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world."
–Saint Arnold of Metz, The patron Saint of Brewers
Some people wanted champagne and caviar when they should have had beer and hot dogs.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
― Benjamin Franklin
"For a quart of ale is a dish for a king"
- William Shakespeare ‘A Winter’s Tale’
Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
- Kaiser Wilhelm
Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer."
- Henry Lawson – Australian Poet and Writer
"Payday came and with it beer"
- Rudyard Kipling
They who drink beer will think beer.
- Washington Irving
“Beer is made by men, wine by God.”
― Martin Luther
"But if at church they would give some ale. And a pleasant fire our souls to regale. We’d sing and we’d pray all the live long day, Nor ever once from the church to stray."
–William Blake
Whiskey's too tough, Champagne costs too much, Vodka puts my mouth in gear. I hope this refrain, Will help me explain, As a matter of fact, I like beer.
Tom T. Hall
“It takes beer to make thirst worthwhile.” – German Proverb



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Feb 26 , 2013