Craft this!

Big Brews and Blues craft-draugh charityfest at Carillon Park

By Justin Kreitzer

Photo: Big Brews and Blues begins at 5 p.m. May 16 at Carillon Park; photo: Sarah Browning

It’s not really a secret blues music and an ice cold brew make the perfect pair. The Big Brews And Blues fundraising event, benefiting Diabetes Dayton, has pretty much perfected it.  The annual event is in its fifth year and has become the signature fundraiser for the non-profit. Led by executive director Susan McGovern, the local, independent association has served Dayton and the surrounding communities for over 50 years.

“This is our only fundraiser, so the dollars raised help us fund our programs and services such as supplies for the uninsured, free diabetes education classes and camps for kids with diabetes,” Diabetes Dayton Executive Director Susan McGovern said. “We wanted to offer an upscale unique event with a popular draw.”

And the Big Brews and Blues event has a significant local impact.

“As an independent diabetes association, we are able to keep 100 percent of our funds right here locally to help those affected by diabetes,” McGovern said. “National diabetes associations like the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – which have important missions, too – send their dollars to corporate offices, where it’s decided how the money is spent.”

One of the most important programs funded by Diabetes Dayton is their summer camps, which have been in operation for over 50 years.

“Camp means making friends with other kids who are living with diabetes, enjoying all the fun of camping while learning how to become more independent managing their diabetes in a medically supervised setting,” McGovern said. “We started a second camp five years ago for youth who have or are at risk for Type 2 diabetes; it is the only camp of its kind in southwest Ohio.”

Taking place again at the end of American Craft Brew Week, this year’s event will offer up an exceptional selection of over 60 draught beers from various American craft breweries with an emphasis on some of our own star local micro-breweries. These include Toxic Brew Company, Star City Brewing, Hairless Hare Brewery, Lock 27 Brewing and Yellow Springs Brewery. Big Brews And Blues is the first and only all-draught beer event in Dayton. Each ticket includes 20 2-ounce taste tickets and a souvenir sampling glass.

According to David Boston, owner of Boston’s Bistro on North Main Street, some of the more attractive craft beer offerings include special one-off brews from Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing, including their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter infused with Ethiopian roasted coffee from Dayton coffee-house Boston Stoker and their cask-conditioned Real Ale served in a firkin. Other offerings of note include Samuel Adams’ Nitro Stout, Hoppin’ Frog’s Mandilishi, Jackie O’s Hop Ryot, Shock Top’s Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat and even a gluten-free offering in the form of Ace’s Honey Apple Cider. In addition, many Miami Valley restaurants will be on hand, including Boston’s Bistro, Taqueria Mixteca and Brock Materson’s, as well as two of the region’s best BBQ joints – Company 7 and Hickory River Smokehouse – to curb your appetite.

In the interest of keeping everything local, this year’s Big Brews And Blues event will feature local music from the retro-inspired sounds of traditional blues troubadour Chris Yakopcic, who is set to open the night at 5 p.m., and Gem City blues rock guitar legend Eric Jerardi, who will play at 6 p.m. Closing out the night will be Columbus-based blues and southern rock guitarist Mark May, who will perform alongside the Soul Satyr Horns for a truly special performance.

The Dayton City Paper interviewed traditional blues revivalist Chris Yakopcic about his upcoming performance and his taste in beer.

Without giving away too many surprises, do you have anything special planned for this unique performance?

Honestly, I think I’m going to do what I always do. I’ll take everything I have been able to learn about blues music and turn it into the best show I can, and maybe we can all get to know each other a little better along the way. Once I’m on the stage I’ll decide what particular instrumental decorations and guitar breaks are right for the moment – if you can even call it deciding … – Chris Yakopcic

With all of the great craft beers offered during the event, which one are you most excited to try?

I’m more into the calmer tasting beers, so I think it would have to be either the Belgian Wit (Rivertown Brewing Co.) or the Bavarian Hefeweizen (Star City Brewing Co.). – CY

If you could pair your music with one of the beers offered during the event, which would it be and why?

I would have to go with The Lesser Path India White (Blank Slate). My blues style isn’t the most common or the most popular one, but I’m hoping that I can inspire a few people that wander in that always liked the sound of a finger-picked slide guitar. – CY


The Big Brews And Blues takes place Friday, May 16 from 5-9 p.m. at Carillon Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd. The tented event will take place rain or shine. Advance tickets are $30 each or $40 at the door. For more information, including a list of all of the beer offerings, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at

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