Beer Fest, St. Baldrick’s raise money in Austintown

Before it plays host to the area’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration, the tent outside O’Donold’s Irish Pub & Grill will be used for two fundraisers.

Proceeds from the Youngstown Craft Beer Fest on Friday will benefit Every Dog Matters Rescue, while the seventh St. Baldrick’s Day event on Saturday will raise money to fight cancers that attack children.

This is the third year for the beer fest, and O’Donold’s owner Christian Rinehart said the crowd size has doubled every year.

While the event will feature several nationally distributed craft brewers like Lagunitas, Bell’s and Weyerbacher, the emphasis is on Ohio craft brewers, including Modern Methods, Paladin, Noble Creatures, Numbers, Jackie O’s, Rhinegeist, Figleaf Brewing, Madtree Brewery, Urban Artifact, Fathead, Owl City, Hoppin’ Frog, Great Lakes, Platform, Wild Ohio, Sibling Revelry, Goldhorn and Masthead.

“We’ve turned over half our beer handles (at O’Donold’s) to hyper-local and Ohio-based breweries,” Rinehart said. “We’re trying to make a microeconomy here.”

Several craft breweries have opened or are about to open locally. If anything, Rinehart said, the area is behind the curve.

“I think we’re five years behind the nationwide trend,” he said. “We’re just catching up. It takes a significant investment and our economy is not as strong. It takes longer for people to come up with that kind of cash.”

Entertainment will be provided by Graphic Pink in the heated tent, and admission includes free transportation home by DD (Designated Driver) 4 Hire.

Organizers of St. Baldrick’s raised more than $25,000 at its sixth annual fundraiser in 2017. Volunteer team captain Eric Broz credited the local musicians who donated their time to the event for last year’s record breaking success.

“We had great bands and a lot came out to see the music,” he said.

This year, nearly 20 acts will perform throughout the day and night both inside the tent and inside O’Donold’s. Stephen Whitfield, booking manager for Justice League Restaurant Group, assembled this year’s lineup, and Broz said his connection to the local music scene as the founder of the Drink Up Youngstown Facebook page is an asset as well.

“I promote all that the band that play in the area through Drink Up Youngstown,” Broz said. “They know it’s my festival, and they want to help me as I help them.”

Both Broz and Rinehart are parents and cited that as one of the primary reasons they got involved with St. Baldrick’s.

“Being a dad, it’s close to my heart,” Rinehart said. “It’s so underfunded and really needs a lot of attention.”

And Broz said, “My daughter is going to be 20 and she’s been relatively healthy. I couldn’t imagine hearing the words, ‘Your child has cancer.’ I’ve met many with cancer and seen what their parents go through.”

Last year, 60 people collected donations and had their heads shaved at the event. This year 49 people have registered and Broz said they usually have another 15 to 20 who just show up. There also will be a basket raffle at the event.

Organizers have set a more modest goal of $15,000 this year. With about $11,500 already pledged, Broz said they should hit that goal easily. The real goal is $18,000, which would mean the event has raised $100,000 in seven years.