Tupper BrewSki draws sold-out crowd | News, Sports, Jobs

Brewer Ron Poulsen of Wood Boat Brewery pours a beer from one of his three taps on Saturday.
(Enterprise photo —Oliver Reil)

TUPPER LAKE — Well over one thousand people attended the ninth-annual BrewSki in Tupper Lake this past weekend for a cold, clear day of sampling beer and sharing laughs.

“We sold out of all 1,200 (tickets) last night,” Tupper Lake Recreation Director Laura LaBarge said on Saturday.

The actual number of attendees was likely closer to 1,500, she said — matching last year’s record attendance — after selling extras on the day of and including those who don’t need a ticket, such as kids, non-drinkers and designated drivers.

The town of Tupper Lake took over BrewSki after the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce, which used to run the event, dissolved last year. Town Councilman John Gillis, who has worked on every BrewSki, said the town — and LaBarge — have done an incredible job.

“It used to take us six, seven hours to set up,” Gillis said on Saturday. “We did it in two and a half yesterday.”

Craig Deyo, left, and Mike Yambrick of Green County look forward to the BrewSki every year. This was their third and fourth year, respectively.
(Enterprise photo — Oliver Reil)

This is LaBarge’s second year with the reins. The event is funded by its own revenue, leaving the taxpayers largely out of it.

Her father, Bill Cote, formerly of the Saranac Lake Police Department, helps her put on the event. As the first line formed at the registration tent, he smiled as he looked at the crowd.

“I love it. I love my job,” he said.

According to LaBarge, the only hitch this year was the skiing conditions. The snow was virtually nonexistent after several warm spells.

“I’m impressed with how many people showed up with the poor trail conditions,” she said.

Bobby “Bulldozer” Clark celebrated his fifth year of BrewSki as a viking this year. He was featured on the Enterprise’s front page BrewSki coverage last year, dressed as a pirate. (Enterprise photo — Oliver Reil)

Despite the lack of skiing and snowshoeing — which organizers advised against in the days leading up to the event — LaBarge saw smiles all around.

“I didn’t run into one upset, sad, angry or negative person at all today. It was great,” she said.

Smiles were indeed abundant on the James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails as long lines formed at each brewery stand. People from all over come to Tupper for the BrewSki, many showing up every year.

“We always look forward every year to coming up to the BrewSki,” Mike Yambrick of Green County said. This was his fourth year.

Eighteen brewers slung samples, with two of the original 20 dropping out. LaBarge said that’s normal, so she overaims with the number of brewers in preparation for last-minute dropouts.

Tupper Lake Youth Activities Director Christielee Geiger, right, and husband Ben Geiger made the rounds on Saturday, chatting with visitors, locals and brewers.
(Enterprise photo —Oliver Reil)

One notable addition to the list this year was the Wild Center, which released in December its Wild Lights Lager, brewed in partnership with Raquette River Brewing.

Wild Center Marketing Director Nick Gunn manned the station, literally taking the gloves off to keep up with the demand as the first wave of thirsty walkers lined up.

Around the fire pits at each stand, eventgoers warmed their fingers and toes while they compared beers and ate pretzels off of snack necklaces. The temperature hovered just below 20 degrees, which didn’t stop the crowds from making multiple laps around the trails.

Paul and Michelle Blust of Jamesville and their Bernese mountain dog Misiu walked the trails Saturday for the second year in a row, their third or fourth BrewSki overall.

“This is a great event, it really is,” Paul said.

Lab Major gets warm by the fire as he looks at his owner Jeff Hall of Rochester, there for the second time. (Enterprise photo — Oliver Reil)

Fire and Ice

In the fields outside of the woods at the end of the loop, the Tupper Lake Lions Club hosted its 14th Fire and Ice Golf Tournament, in which participants hit tennis balls instead of golf balls across the snow. This year, though, there was little snow to speak of.

Nevertheless, around a dozen teams of three participated, whacking tennis balls around and putting them into makeshift cups. On the periphery, the Lions Club sold burgers and hotdogs next to a bonfire.

Sisters Jennifer and Erika Derouin celebrated their fourth BrewSki this year. Last year, they were first in line. (Enterprise photo — Oliver Reil)

First-time participants Eddie West, Mike Kelly and Mike Zande won this year. All tournament proceeds go to support the Lions’ community projects.

Trenton, Katie, Jeff, Cain and Ben Thibault and Emily Gehring, all from western New York, were the first in line for registration on Saturday. “We had a blast (last year), that’s why we’re here again,” Jeff said. (Enterprise photo — Oliver Reil)

Larry Fountaine, left, and Phil Oakes of Massena celebrate their fifth year of BrewSki with lots of laughs. (Enterprise photo — Oliver Reil)

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