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HRAC keeps traditions during 7th Brews Arts Fest

Larshell Green

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Director of Sims Memorial Library, Eric Johnson served a variety of brews as a volunteer for HRAC

Director of Sims Memorial Library, Eric Johnson served a variety of brews as a volunteer for HRAC
Larshell Green/The Lion's Roar

Hammond Regional Arts Center celebrates craft beer by local and international vendors while infusing elements of local art, food and music during the seven-year celebration.

HRAC held the Brews Arts Festival, the annual one-day beer tasting took place on Friday, Sept. 30 from 5-9 p.m. at the Morrison Alley Parking Lot off North Cypress.

Henderson’s Hearth, the Hammond Art Guild, Jewelry Designs by Mimi and LoveDay Funck were all vendors at the festival. 

Tara Bennett, Media Coordinator for HRAC, believes that traditions such as local chef Kevin Cote preparing food for the festival and John Perilloux’s art work and live demonstrations helped bring the seven year festival to life.

“John’s metal forging and Kevin’s delicious food appeal to our festival goers every year,” said Bennett. “Each year we receive multiple requests for them to return.” 

Perilloux, a returning blacksmith to the Brews Arts Festival, expressed enthusiasm after being continuously asked to return for over 3 years. Perrilloux did his annual steel burning show to form artwork during a live demonstration. 

“I’m local and I want to support the arts center,” said Perilloux. “Everyone’s nice and it’s an easy event to go to.”

Cote returned to cook for the festival for the fifth time. He admitted that he engaged in trial and error, along with two days of shopping to prepare dishes such as “berled” peanuts, jambalaya, green onion sausage, Boudin links and more. 

“It’s a great cause, supporting Hammond Regional Arts Center,” said Cote. “I thought I’d keep it a little simple this year. It’s all about having good beer in one hand and food in the other. As long as they keep having it, I will come back.” 

Local band Ricky T and The Rockets performed for the first time at the festival. Members Rick Tobey, Bobby Kronlage and Ralph Bowers were happy that audience members were enjoying their set list which consisted of rock and blues songs. 

“We do everything our own special way, we do it the Ricky T and the Rockets way, it’s a very original band,” said Tobey.

It was Christy Womack and her husband Jim’s first time at the Brews Arts Festival. According to Christy Womack, they go to gallery openings, but have never been to a Brews Arts Festival. 

“The weather is great, the crowd looks like it’s gonna be good,” said Christy Womack. “I’m really impressed with all the raffle items. We just like to support Hammond Regional Arts Center. It’s a good space to connect.”

Amy Guilbeau, owner of local business Henderson’s Hearth served up Keltic inspired soup mixes, baked mixes, jams and gifts. At her third year at the festival, Guilbeau used the festival as a liaison for future events she will participate in. 

“One of the mixes is a beer bread mix,” said Guilbeau. “I like to do it with several different beers to show how it can change with the flavor of the beer. I’ve been active with the arts center for years and it’s a wonderful opportunity to get with the community and get the word out about the Renaissance Festival and the Famer’s Market.”

Zac Caramonta, a local business owner of Gnarly Barley and university alumni brought four new flavors to this year’s festival: Imperial Korova Milk Porter, A Clockwork Orange, Catahoula Common and Radical Rye.

“I make small batches to try them out and to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Caramonta. 

Attendees such as Markus Gerdes enjoyed the variety of beers that Caramonta provided. Gerdes returned to the Brews Arts Festival for the fourth year because the proximity of it, what he describes as pleasant weather and the brews that he had access to.

“The peanut butter drink from Gnarly Barly is my favorite,” said Gerdes. “It’s a mix of peanut butter and beer, it’s the best of both worlds.”

Marc Settembrino, a university sociology professor, described creating his artwork as liberating and abstract. According to Settembrino, his work is a sharp contrast between his career in education.

“I just do it because it’s fun, it makes me happy and it’s a way for me to relax,” said Caramonta. “I get to make pretty paintings to make people happy. All of my academic work is very rigid and supposed to fit in a nice, neat box. There’s so much more freedom in the practice.”

Despite traditions remaining a staple of the Brews Arts Festival, new additions such as the university Ceramics Club provided a fresh festival experience. 

“I think it all comes down to maintaining a balance of bringing in the new, but still keeping what people have enjoyed in the past,” said Bennett. “With the brews you’ll either find something you already enjoy while also discovering new favorites. With the art demos, we still have festival favorite John Perilloux, but the Ceramics Club provides something new to experience as well.”

Akilah Spears, a senior art major with a concentration in ceramics participated in the festival as  president of the Ceramics Club. Spears and the club were asked to perform  live demonstrations using a ceramics wheel. They used the opportunity to get students and the community familiar with the club and to help in future career endeavors. 

“For us, the more publicity we have, the better off we’ll be when we become full-fledged artists,” said Spears.

Katherine Marquette, Executive Director of HRAC describes the Brews Arts Festival as one of the biggest sources to HRAC’s operating budget and is appreciative of their loyal supporters. She confirmed that the festival will continue to be held on the last Friday in September for years to come. 

“We encourage them to mark their calendars for next year,” said Marquette. We’d love to have their continuous support. It’s our biggest single day event.”

Bennett encourages lovers of beer, demonstrations, vendors, food and music to attend the festival in light of the many other local festivals attendees may have access to. 

“A lot of the compliments we get about the festival always centers on its quality because the HRAC focuses on bringing the best experience to its attendees every year,” said Bennett. “Not only that, but our patrons also enjoy the quantity. One year, I had a patron tell me he thought we were the best brew festival compared to others because his glass was never empty.”

Overall attendance for the festival was 16 percent higher than last year. Bennett hopes to top that number next year and was satisfied by the success of this year’s Brews Arts Festival. 

“I can say without a doubt this was one of our best Brews Arts Festival,” said Bennett. “My favorite thing to do is watch the crowd as it grows to its fullest. This festival always lives up to its reputation as being a fun event with good brews, food, art and music.”

The Hammond Regional Arts Center held the 7th annual Brews Arts Festival on Friday, Sept. 30. Music, food, crafts and artwork were all featured as the overall attendance for the festival rose by 16 percent this year.  Jenna Hill of Hammond returned to the festival for the fifth year. “I like beer, I like art, I like music and I love Hammond,” said Hill. “It’s good to support local artists, food and breweries.”

The Hammond Regional Arts Center held the 7th annual Brews Arts Festival on Friday, Sept. 30. Music, food, crafts and artwork were all featured as the overall attendance for the festival rose by 16 percent this year.  Jenna Hill of Hammond returned to the festival for the fifth year. “I like beer, I like art, I like music and I love Hammond,” said Hill. “It’s good to support local artists, food and breweries.” 
Larshell Green/The Lion's Roar

The Hammond Regional Arts Center held the 7th annual Brews Arts Festival on Friday, Sept. 30. Music, food, crafts and artwork were all featured as the overall attendance for the festival rose by 16 percent this year.  Jenna Hill of Hammond returned to the festival for the fifth year. “I like beer, I like art, I like music and I love Hammond,” said Hill. “It’s good to support local artists, food and breweries.”

The Hammond Regional Arts Center held the 7th annual Brews Arts Festival on Friday, Sept. 30. Music, food, crafts and artwork were all featured as the overall attendance for the festival rose by 16 percent this year.  Jenna Hill of Hammond returned to the festival for the fifth year. “I like beer, I like art, I like music and I love Hammond,” said Hill. “It’s good to support local artists, food and breweries.” 
Larshell Green/Larshell Green

Member of Ricky T and The Rockets, Rick Tobey performed blues and rock songs at the festival for the first time.

Member of Ricky T and The Rockets, Rick Tobey performed blues and rock songs at the festival for the first time.
Larshell Green/The Lion's Roar

 

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