Blues and Brews festival raises funds for WCTE public television

BLUES WITH BREWS – Blues and Brews is a fundraiser for WCTE public television. The event raised $33,000 in 2014. 

The second annual Blues & Brews Craft Beer Festival was held again Saturday, Oct. 17 in Dogwood Park.

Blues & Brews started out as a small WCTE fundraiser where patrons could listen to music, enjoy food and try a few local brews. However, when Becca Magura, president and CEO of WCTE, refocused the event as a craft beer festival, the event's attendance increased from fewer than 200 attendees to 750 last year. 

Last year, the event itself made about $33,000. 

“This year, I'd like to hit $45,000. Fundraisers are so essential for local production,” said Magura. “People don't realize the cost of production. Staff time, editing, and equipment are all very expensive.”

WCTE’s fundraisers finance 

productions such as Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree, Cookeville Christmas Parade, Discover the Upper Cumberland, and award-winning Live Green Tennessee. 

“We are the recipient of some federal funding, but in order to receive these funds we're required to raise a certain amount of preliminary nonfederal funding,” said Jodi Pitts, WCTE event coordinator. “That's what our fundraising is for, is to reach the nonfederal mark we have to reach every year.” 

“The cost of television production all depends on what you're trying to accomplish, so it's hard to say how much money goes into the cost of each production,” said Desiree Duncan, WCTE production manager. “For example, Live Green Tennessee costs around $50,000 for one season to produce.”

The appearance of Regional HomeBrewer's Association at Blues & Brews is unique to WCTE's mission to educate, inform and inspire. The Regional HomeBrewer's Association brought their own brews, provided demonstrations and answered questions locals may have about home brewing. 

The VIP Stein Social occurred from 11 a.m. to noon, an hour before Blues & Brews started. It was an hour for locals to mingle with more than 60 vendors and brewers about their styles of brews and the distinctions of flavor in their product. 

With 11 breweries represented from Tennessee, most of the rest are local to the southeast region. 

“We've had a long standing relationship with Calfkiller and Yazoo,”

 said Pitts.

Pitts also said the flavors are what one would find in the region, such as molasses.

“Blues & Brews is an experience where you get to taste something you don't normally get to try. You don't have to go to Nashville or Knoxville because we bring that experience right here to you,” said Pitts. “It's in a great setting in Dogwood Park, and it’s an event where you can meet up with your friends in our own community.”

Pitts said the increase in attendees is because people are looking for a premier high-quality event in Cookeville.

Leah Spivey, sales and branding ambassador of Yazoo Brewing Company, chose to attend Cookeville’s Blues & Brews over four other craft beer festivals in Tennessee this weekend.

“I choose to come here because y’all actually appreciate it more,” said Spivey. “I’m not saying that other areas don’t, but the excitement here is a little bit higher than other areas.”

Yazoo Brewing Company’s objective is to establish more of a presence in the Cookeville area.

Features like beer-inspired baked goods were presented at the festival.

Rena Power, owner of Craft Cakes, showcased baked goods made from beer, beer ingredients, and spirits, such as an apple crumb cake made with apple ale and brown ale caramel.

“I put beer in the cupcakes while I’m baking them. It’s not really infused with beer,” said Power. “Beer goes in all the cupcakes; it’s an ingredient.”

WCTE provided a package deal in which runners who purchased Blues & Brews tickets would have VIP status into the festival. The VIP tickets sold out before the festival began.

VIP at Blues & Brews included exclusive seating in the all day hospitality tent with food provided by Char, Buffalo Wild Wings and Seven Senses. Budweiser, Yazoo, Mid-South Distributing and BountyBev provided the beer in the VIP tent.

Kate MacIndoe, Tech alumna, said she wasn’t there for the music. 

“I came out to cheer for my dad in the half-marathon, then hang out and drink free beer,” said MacIndoe. “Who wouldn’t want to drink free beer all day?”