EAST HAVEN — The Beeracks in East Haven will host a Closer to Free fundraiser on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18 from 2 to 5 p. The event will feature beers from the eight breweries currently brewing at The Beeracks as well as a special Sour Ale brewed for the event by Hoax Brewing Company.
Organized by Closer to Free participants and Reed’s Riders teammates Evelyne Haldimann and EJ Vongher, the fundraiser will also feature pizza from Bobby’s (North Branford) and Marco’s (Branford), music from DJ Joe Lock and a raffle with over 25 prizes contributed from a variety of local breweries, restaurants, pubs and retailers.
“The idea of combining good beer with cycling is not new, but it is awesome. So many of my fellow riders in Closer to Free love great beer so hosting a fundraiser at a brewery for this event is a natural,” said EJ Vongher. Earlier this summer, another event coordinated by Haldimann and Vongher at the DuVig Brewing Company (Branford) raised over $1,500. Haldimann, who works as a “beertender” at DuVig, was the impetus behind expanding the raffle beyond DuVig Brewing company offerings.
“EJ had done this fundraiser at DuVig three times prior and I worked it with him last year. He invited me to help out this year and my first thought was ‘let’s blow out the raffle.’ I approached many local restaurants or retailers and they were more than happy to donate. EJ picked up the reins and went after the breweries. I think we had almost 25 prizes in the raffle,” said Evelyne Haldimann. Of the funds raised, 100 percent go directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital
High-quality beer has always been a part of these fundraisers, which Vongher has incorporated into his Closer To Free rides since his first in 2015. With the explosion of craft beer in Connecticut, tapping into this customer base has been a successful strategy. What’s more, the breweries also embrace the drive behind raising money for Smilow.
“Giving back to the community is a big part of who we are at the Beeracks,” said Overshore’s owner and Beeracks founder Christian Amport. “But also for many of us, the cancer fight is very close to home. Closer to Free is a great way for us to support research, care and survivorship here in our own community.”
In addition to the raffle — with prizes from breweries such as Hulls, Counterweight, Fat Orange Cat and restaurants like Home (Branford), Nataz (North Branford) and the Sandpiper (East Haven), there will be a 30 mile Closer to Free training ride from the Beeracks to DuVig Brewing Company in Branford and back. DuVig has been a centerpiece of these fundraisers over the last five years.
“Cancer impacts every family here in Connecticut, including our own families. Being able to help these riders raise money for such a great cause is our honor here at DuVig. The fact that they enjoy our beer adds to our pleasure,” said DuVig owner Kim Vigliotti, who will also have a prize in the raffle.
Those interested in participating in the training ride, must arrive at The Beeracks by 10:30 a.m. the morning of the event.