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Lansdale Beer Fest Raises $25K for Local Groups

Manna on Main Street and Lansdale Farmers' Market were presented with checks Saturday from the proceeds of the Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival

Benefits from the Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival in June have been reaped and have now satisfied the coffers of five local charitable organizations.

Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival raised more than $40,000. Of that, $25,000 was divvied up by Lansdale Area Fundraising Society (LAFS) to Lansdale Farmers' Market, , , the Wounded Warrior Project and Variety Club Camp in Worcester.

Lansdale Library will receive a $15,000 check at the next Lansdale Borough council meeting. Lansdale Farmers' Market and Manna on Main Street each received $3,500 Saturday. Variety Club Camp and Wounded Warrior will each get $1,500.

The remaining $15,000 will be held by LAFS to fund more events in the borough.

"We want to get involved in more activities throughout the year," said LAFS executive committee member Drew Stockmal. "We want to keep a lot of the focus on Lansdale and we want the payouts to stay local."

LAFS headed to the farmers' market Saturday and presented a check for $3,500 to The Food Trust, accepted by Caleb Torrice of the Lansdale Farmers' Market Committee and owner of .

Lansdale Farmers' Market committee member Molly Whetstone said The Food Trust is the fiscal agent of the market, as the market itself runs on its own.

The money, she said, would go toward marketing and operating costs of the market, as well as educational programming sponsored by the market committee.

"Money from the Beer Fest gives us that extra room in the budget for kids' storytime and crafts," Whetstone said.

The market partners with Lansdale Library to sponsor events like the Clean and Green Extravaganza on July 21.

"Contributions like this give us the opportunity to do more educational programming and community events," Whetstone said. "Things above and beyond just setting up and selling every weekend."

Whetstone said the idea is to offer more experiences in the community than just the farmers' market.

Vendors pay $325 for a 10-foot full-season space for 25 weeks, she said. Vendors keep all proceeds from their sales.

There are different packages too, like half-season rates.

"It works out to about $13 a week. That's what's so great. These people have their own farm and can sell their stuff. They make their $13 back and keep their profit," she said. "Fees they give us are used to advertise and pay insurance."

Whetstone said the success of the market makes living in Lansdale a little bit better.

"That's the thing with the Beer Fest: They are doing the exact same thing. Our organizations are very similar," Whetstone said. "They are a bunch of friends and neighbors that got together that said 'We want to do something in this town. We want to run an event.' And they did it, and that's what we did."

"We want to improve this community, and do something positive, and do something fun," Whetstone said. "And then give back. They could do whatever they wanted with that money, but they give it back to the community. We're very appreciative."

Stockmal said other organizations in town are doing well by Lansdale. The Beer Fest the first year brought in $8,000 and then $22,000 last year.

"That's over $70,000 for three years. That's pretty exciting," he said. "We're getting better at this, so we're trying to figure out how to do things well and within budget."

Nancy Day, assistant weekend nutritional director at Manna on Main Street, said the money would go toward maintenance of the building and purchases of food.

"We are doing fabulous," Day said of Manna's new location. "We've seen more clients than at our old location."

Day said Manna feeds about 40 people a day. It serves two meals a day Monday to Saturday and one meal on Sunday.

"When you have people regularly give, you start to count on that," Day said.

The $15,000 for the library will surely help out operating costs said Stockmal and LAFS board member Steve Malagari.

"Last year, they had a $20,000 shortfall, and we gave them $14,000 last year. We helped them close part of the shortfall," Stockmal said.

He said at the end of the day, LAFS doesn't want the library to cut hours, as that would hurt the community.

"We're able to do all this without the taxpayers having to pull out their wallets to make up the shortfall," Stockmal said. "Other organizations can step up and get involved and do some things."

Lansdale Beer Fest Executive Committee member Mike Parzynski said it is incredible to see where LAFS has come from over the past three years.

LAFS has four members that make up the Lansdale Beer Fest Executive Committee: Stockmal, Parzynski, Mike Panachyda and Ray Liberto.

Those four also make up the board of directors of LAFS, along with Lansdale Borough Councilman Steve Malagari, Mayor Andy Szekely, Whetstone and board president Rege McKenzie.

"The first year, me, Drew and Mike (Panachyda) were running around like crazy the day of the event. We didn't have any real organization, we didn't have a lot of volunteers, and we pulled it off well enough that we learned a lot of lessons. We keep getting bigger and better," he said.

The Lansdale Beer Fest began as a neighborhood event, organized and discussed on Stockmal's deck more than three years ago as a way to raise money for charity.

"It was a group of private citizens wanting a great event for the enjoyment of everyone and really taking that money and putting it right back into the community," said Parzynski. "It creates a great feeling because there are a lot of people that love the fact that we are giving money back. A lot were there for the beer - but you're having great beer and giving back to the community."

Stockmal was inspired when he saw Mayor Andy Szekely start Oktoberfest in Lansdale.

"Individuals can step up and get involved and say, 'I'm going to do something proactive.' You talk to borough council and their first thing is, 'How can I help you?' People just need to step up and be active and make a difference with their energy, ideas and time."

Lansdale, he said, has become very cohesive.

"Not everyone agrees on everything, but everyone has the passion of we want this town to improve," Stockmal said. "People have a different way of doing it, and you're seeing it."

Stockmal said when different community organizations can work together, it rubs off on the people that see what's going on in Lansdale.

"Every organization seems to support the other one," he said.

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