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News & Press: Industry News

Big Red Liquors Fundraising for 23 Years

Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
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NAMES, NAMESFor 23 years, Big Red Liquors has been a top brand with one nonprofit that couldn’t survive without the support of the company’s employees and expertise in putting together great charity events. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington, which is the benefactor of mega-events that Big Red creates, serves up to 380 kids ages 6-18 every day in Monroe County.


While the small fee is a mere $20 for each child to participate, the actual costs for the organization are $580 per child. That affordability factor for after-school programs, camps, outreach programs, and assisting another 500 kids for Lemonade Day in Bloomington is significant. “The reality is that Big Red makes our programs accessible for kids,” said Executive Director Jeff Baldwin. It’s been a long-time partnership and one that relies on volunteers like Chet Chmielewski, who helps make Beerfest 2014 as smooth-looking as it is smooth-tasting, with 350-plus local brews and national ales.


“There’s a lot to be taken care of,” he shared at the 2014 longest running beer festival in downtown Bloomington. Even Big Red’s VIP card allows tasters a special pull of a select offering from each of the vendors — and open only to VIP card holders. Fountain Square Brewery from Indianapolis, for example, offered its Hop Your Face Imperial IPA to Big Red VIP-sters. With each attendee paying $40, the need to have a smooth-running event (carding and all) is critical.


Chmielewski can go from carding to broom-and-spit bucket duty in a second as needed. But also knows the balance of offering this crowd what they came for and making sure that the offerings are diverse, tasty and new to the marketplace. The vendors appreciate the opportunity just as much — from Mike Thilman who works for Monarch Beverage Company to Steve Llewellyn who was able to get his first brews out at the event when he started Function Brewing. Llewellyn said Beerfest “helped get the word out” when he started his Bloomington business and “people remembered us.”


Thilman said those who come here year after year represent a diverse, older and appreciative crowd. “It’s a more mature crowd here — people who appreciate beer.” That makes for a smoothly executed and fun event with lots of beer chatter. Boys & Girls Club volunteers know it as well. Brian Thompson, a board member and local real estate agent, minded the first floor of the Bloomington Convention Center waiting his turn for a tasting.


“This is a big thing. We depend on Big Red. This is an event the community looks forward to every year and we’re assured of it annually.” NAMES, NAMES (Big Red Liquors got its start in Indiana in 1972. The company now operates 51 stores.)

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