Festival-goers enjoy Beau's Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill in 2015. Photo Tara Kirkpatrick.

Do good, feel good: your Beau’s Oktoberfest ticket makes good things happen

In nine years, Beau’s signature fundraising event has raised more than $615,000 for charity, community, independent arts and global fairness

“Beer tastes better when you can feel good about drinking it,” asserts Beau’s Brewing Co. co-founder and CEO Steve Beauchesne. He is talking about the do-good, feel-good effect that is at the heart of Beau’s Oktoberfest, the signature fundraising event hosted each fall by the local craft brewery. This year’s event takes place September 21 and 22, 2018. Coming up on its 10th edition, Beau’s Oktoberfest has already raised more than $615,000 for charity, community, independent arts and global fairness since it launched in 2009.

Last year 20,000 visitors descended upon the village of Vankleek Hill, Ontario to enjoy scores of different craft beers, award-winning Canadian music, and +25 food booths each hosted by a local restaurant, as well as games, beer-themed activities, and family fun. Seems simple enough: show up, have a good time. But the magic of Oktoberfest doesn’t end when the barrels are put away. With money from Beau’s Oktoberfest 2017, kids got after-school homework support and positive mentorship, foodbanks’ shelves were filled, area waterways were cared for, a local hospital got much closer to buying diagnostic equipment, and a refugee family’s costs were covered to come to Canada.

“There are a lot of great beer and music festivals out there, but at the end of the day, many exist to put money in the pockets of their organizers. We believed that we could do better than that, so we did,” says Beauchesne.

The fundraising model for the festival is both complex and interactive; many of the charities or community groups participate directly as volunteers, a needed resource to put the festival on. Others are just naturally resourceful: Ottawa-based group Hidden Harvest brings fruit and nuts gathered from public and private property that otherwise would go to waste, and brings them to local food banks. They came together to build by hand about a dozen Beau’s-themed games, to put on a mini-midway. Each year prizes for the midway are donated by Beau’s and other similarly minded businesses. “Over the past four years, Beau’s has supported our organization in fundraising/earning more than $41,400, which we have leveraged to create more than $150,000 worth of social, environmental, and economic return,” says Hidden Harvest co-founder Jay Garlough.

While much of the fundraising happens at a local level, national and even international organizations have been touched by the goodwill of Beau’s Oktoberfest. The Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society are both past recipients of a $10,000 boost from Beau’s Oktoberfest. In 2013 Beau’s allocated $6,000 USD to lend through Kiva, a microloan not-for-profit organization that lends opportunity funding to individuals and groups around the world. When repaid, loans can go back out to new borrowers. In five years, Beau’s has funded more than 750 loans in 64 countries, turning over the $6,000 it started with into more than $35,000 USD.

So… does beer taste better when you feel good about drinking it? Bring some friends and come find out for yourself! The do-good, feel-good party of the year takes place on September 21 and 22 in Vankleek Hill, ON. Tickets are on sale now at www.beausoktoberfest.ca.


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