It may be the first year for the Lombard American Craft Ale Fest, but organizers are confident beer afficionados will find it stands out among a growing number of beer festivals in the suburbs.
Eight dozen stouts, lagers, ciders and other hoppy drinks from 40 breweries around the nation will be available for tasting at the event, which runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at Lilacia Park and the downtown Lombard Metra station.
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If you goWhat: Lombard American Craft Ale Fest
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 14
Where: Lilacia Park, 150 S. Park Ave.
Cost: $40 general admission, $70 VIP; designated driver tickets also available for $15 general admission and $25 VIP.
Why: To raise money for the Glenbard East Booster Club to pay off the school's new artificial turf football field.
There also will be food trucks, live music and a chance to check out some vintage cars, should guests decide to stick around until Cruise Nights begins at 6 p.m. in downtown.
"This is looking like it's going to be an excellent fundraiser for the village of Lombard," said Bob Difino, chairman of the events committee for the Glenbard East Boosters Club, which is organizing the event. "You can really have a nice day of it."
The idea for the event came about when the club was looking for a way to raise money to pay off its portion of the new artificial turf football field at the school, Difino said.
A few years ago, the booster club agreed to take responsibility for about one-third of the cost of the $1.4 million turf field project. Difino said the money came from a 10-year bond issued to the boosters club that has yearly payments of about $37,000.
Difino said the boosters hosted a fundraiser concert at the high school that brought in about $12,000. After that, the group agreed to plan for a bigger concert in Lilacia Park.
Organizers for the concert came in contact with the owners of Flesk Brewing in Lombard, who suggested the club might make more money if it hosted a beer festival, Difino said.
The group hired Lou Dog Events to promote the ale fest in its first three years. For the first year, the company will receive 30 percent of proceeds, while the boosters club will receive 70 percent.
As of Saturday, the event is in the black, meaning every ticket sold up until Saturday will be revenue, Difino said. Organizers also are expecting a surge in ticket sales during the last few days leading up to the event, which will be held under tents and held rain or shine.
Guests who already have bought tickets are mostly from Lombard, communities along Metra's Union Pacific/West line and Chicago, Difino said. Tickets sales will cease when 2,500 are sold. If that occurs before Saturday, a notice will be put on the event's website.
"I think we've got the right amount of people for an event like this," he said.
If the event is a success, Difino anticipates the boosters will be able to pay off the bond in three or four years.
General admission is $40 and includes 15 drink tickets and a commemorative festival glass. Each ticket can be exchanged for a 3 ounce sample. Guests can purchase up to 10 additional tickets for 50 cents each.
VIP tickets, which allow guests to enter the festival at noon, are available for $70. They also include 15 tickets and a commemorative glass, along with a food voucher and a festival T-shirt.
Designated driver tickets are also available. For $15, designated drivers will gain entrance to the event, along with complimentary soda and water and a commemorative glass. VIP designated driver tickets are $25, which includes early entry at noon, soda and water, a glass, a festival T-shirt and a food voucher.
"It's going to be a busy, busy day in Lombard," Difino said. "We're really excited about it in general. There's so much buzz in the community and our downtown businesses are going to benefit."