“There’s berry and then there is cranberry-apple,” explained a server to a woman customer. They were under one of the canvass canopies set up near the pavilion in Purgatory Creek Park.
As the server lifted a chilled can of hard seltzer water from a cooler for her friend, he peeled back the tab on its lid. The action made a metallic charipp sound and a soft hisss.
“The cranberry-apple is very good,” replied the woman. “I want to try the berry.”
She was sampling the libations offered by Lift Bridge Brewing Company of Stillwater; one of 13 craft-brewers at this year’s Prairie Brewfest. Joining them were Flying Dutchman Spirits of Eden Prairie, Carlos Creek Winery of Alexandria and several gourmet food trucks.
The annual Eden Prairie Community Foundation fundraiser helps pump grants to local initiatives ranging from food shelves, to art, education and history projects and services for youth, seniors and the homeless.
The large, mobile crowd was upbeat and eager to taste beer and wine, munch tavern snacks and chat. Last year’s sampling was cancelled due to the pandemic. Saturday’s brewfest provided a large area for social distancing. Micro-brew enthusiasts shared sunshine, lawn and walkways with neighbors, leashed dogs, sponsor reps, vendor, picnic and bistro tables and signs that read “You’re crafting a better community.”
Brewfest snack delivery volunteer, Parks Director Jay Lotthammer, and Eden Prairie resident Mindi shared automotive thoughts about today’s Nissan models and vintage Datsuns. Lotthamer, says he still drives a Datsun.
The Prairie Brewfest planning team had recruited 28 volunteers to stage and manage the event and book the rock-cover band Wondercure for its seventh brewfest gig.
Elected officials Mayor Ron Case, City Council Member P.G. Narayanan, retired Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens and community leader Jenifer Loon were greeted with warm smiles.
So too were several Eden Prairie School Board members and retired newspaper publisher Stan Rolfsrud. For decades, Rolfsrud headed the vibrant Southwest News chain of suburban weeklies that under new ownership had lost its crown, the Eden Prairie News. But the stars of the day were the collegial folks who showed up to explore the nuanced flavors of the craft beers, ciders and soft drinks.
“We had amazing weather this year,” wrote Mark Weber in an email note to EPLN. This year’s 646 ticket tally was on par with previous years but shy of 2019’s 700-plus attendance record.
Weber, the Executive Director of the Eden Prairie Foundation, said of Saturday’s event, … “it was outstanding support for the Foundation’s work to help neighbors in hardship and to strengthen community services.”
As a result of a Brewfest attendee vote, Onward Eden Prairie won a $2,000 grant for transitional-housing support services and Choice, Inc. won a $1,000 grant for a Friends of the Environment recycling program.
After a year’s absence, Prairie Brewfest has again primed a funding pump for critical community service programs.
For more information, go to the Eden Prairie Community Foundation website.
Note: In addition to serving as Executive Director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, Mark Weber is a founding board member of Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN). The Eden Prairie Community Foundation will continue to serve as the fiscal agent for EPLN until the Internal Revenue Service designates EPLN as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation.