Saturday afternoon, over 400 people were welcomed to Portage’s Founders Square for Portage Brewfest, which saw 34 individual breweries represented. The event, which was held for the first time in its four-year history this year at Founders Square, is the largest annual fundraiser for the Portage Township YMCA. This also marks the first time that the YMCA has partnered with the Portage Chamber of Commerce to put on the event.
Jan Zurek, Fund Development Director for the Portage Township YMCA, was excited to be a part of this great community outreach event.
“As a Portage resident of 17 years,” Zurek explained, “I’m very proud to be a part of a community where we have a park like this, and can support organizations as well as our regular citizens.”
“We moved [BrewFest] to Founders Square so we could take advantage of our city’s beautiful new landscaping and new amphitheater, and bring more people from our community out to rally around the YMCA and the Chamber of Commerce, because this beer is on a mission,” she added.
The event serves to deliver the Portage Township YMCA’s message of putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy mind, body, and spirit for all in their community.
“We want people to use our services even if they can’t afford it,” Zurek mentioned. “So we rely on the charity of donors to help us fuel our mission, and when donations fall short, then we raise our own money through events like this.”
The event started as “The Witch’s Brew,” an event that the Portage Township YMCA would hold indoors at Woodland Park, eventually changing its name to Portage Brewfest as the event grew in size with each passing year.
Nancy Simpson, Executive Director of the Portage Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Portage Township YMCA’s Board of Directors, was at the front gates of the event helping attendees with anything they may need.
“It’s super exciting to be a Founders Square Park for this event,” said Simpson, who was helping coordinate everything so that the event ran smoothly. “This is the first year that the amphitheater has had a lot going on.”
Founders Square Park, which opened in 2015, is gaining public exposure through events such as the Portage Brewfest.
“The more events we can expose this beautiful park to, the better it is for everyone in the community,” said Simpson.
The attendees were having a great time at the event, which featured live music from Nawty and Chad Clifford. Jennifer Smolnicky, a portage resident who works as the Director of Transfer Enrollment at Valparaiso University and owns Portage Jazzercise, was attending the event for the first time.
“It’s just a great opportunity at the end of the summer to get together with friends and catch up,” said Smolnicky. “It’s just a great day to get outside.”
Smolnicky’s friend, Mathew Ellman, frequents many beer festivals and can attest that this one definitely stacks up to others in the area.
“The beer selection here is good,” said Ellman. “The music is good, the venue is wonderful.”
For the breweries present, the event represents a good chance to get their names and products out.
Chris Reisetter, Head Brewer at Zorn Brew Works of Michigan City, was having a great time showing off his craft to all of the attendees.
“It’s cool,” said Reisetter. “There’s plenty of food and plenty of different varieties [of beer]; a little bit of something for everyone.”
Portage, IN 46368
Visit Portage Township YMCA Partner Profile