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Friend Inc. Community Services in Kutztown was created in 1972 to end poverty and support those who were having financial troubles. Last month, the food pantry served a record 735 people.
One of the ways that Friend Inc. raises money for their programs is through extensive fundraisers such as Friend Fest, an craft beer and wine tasting event.
The 5th annual Friend Fest Benefit Beer and Wine Festival will be held on Feb. 23 at Kutztown Fairgrounds.
“The funds go to support friend programs such as the food pantry,” said Sandra Wise, the Executive Director of Friend Inc. “In December alone, we served a record of 735 individuals through our pantry.”
Cathy Dill, the office and projects manager of Friend Inc., explained that the money made from Friend Fest goes into the rent and buying food for the food pantry.
“The Food Pantry is located in our office on Noble Street.We are open a couple of days a month by appointment only.”
Dill explained that the food pantry used to be open only one day a month but the need has changed. Dill said that the food pantry serves Kutztown, Fleetwood, and Brandywine Heights communities.
Friend Fest is one of the group’s largest fundraisers. It is a wine and beer festival and this year there are 15 breweries and six wineries that will be sharing the floor at Beltnzer Hall in the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
Feb. 23 will mark the fifth annual Friend Fest and organizers hope that it will be much bigger than it has in previous years.
“Last year, we made $29,256 and we’re hoping to raise more money this year as the need for our services has increased,” Wise said.
Wineries this year include University Wine Company, Long Trout Winery, Peace Valley Winery, Sand Castle Winery and Stone Keep Meadery, as well as Blair Vineyards of Kutztown. Some of the breweries include Otter Creek, Founders Six Point and Troegs, as well as Golden Avalanche Brewing Company of Kutztown.
What draws people back every year are the bands.
“The bands are always a big draw,” Wise said.
Friend Fest is made up of three sessions. The first session goes from 1to 3:30 p.m. and will include music by Stand Tall Baby Doll, a jazz act from Lancaster. The second (4-6:30 p.m.) and third (7-9:30 p.m.) sessions will include music from Frog Holler, from Reading, and the Wallace Brothers, from Kutztown.
Dill agreed that a part from the beer and wine, the music is what has people coming back to the event every year.
“A lot of people come to see Frog Holler,” Dill said.
This year, according to Wise, the main difference is that there are a lot more sponsors which include National Penn Bank, Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center.
Wise also mentioned that there are 15 breweries this year while last year there were only 10 breweries.
Additional food is also available for purchase.
Tickets for Friend Fest can be purchased online at www.friendfest.org.