SKOWHEGAN — The annual Craft Brew Fest could not deliver its beer, food and end-of-summer farewell this year because of COVID-19, but a fundraiser in its place succeeded in selling out the products the fest is known for and supplying buyers with drink and food for more than just one night.

In lieu of Brew Fest, the Main Street Skowhegan’s Brew Bag Committee created a brew bag for purchase.

More than 300 brew bags were sold, each containing 15 brews from Maine breweries, Applewood smoked ricotta from Crooked Face Creamery, apples from Cayford Orchards, seeded crackers from The Miller’s Table at Maine Grains, cookies from The Bankery made from spent grains from the brewing process, two tasting glasses, a koozie sponsored by Hight Family of Dealerships, a Golden Ticket for a chance to win a pair of VIP passes to next year’s brew fest donated by Franklin Savings Bank, a link to a virtual live music performance and other swag from local businesses.

The band No Problemo will put on the virtual performance. Connor Reeves, a member of the band, lives in Skowhegan but will take the stage on an island in the tropics, Main Street Skowhegan Executive Director Kristina Cannon said. The show will be streamed through Zoom at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“When we first started the Skowhegan Craft Brew Fest in 2016, it was important to us to promote our local food purveyors and the smaller, Maine-based breweries, and this year was no exception,” Cannon said. “The Skowhegan region is home to many local farms, orchards, cheeseries and food producers, and not only did we want to support them during these tough times by purchasing their products to include in the bags, we also wanted to promote these businesses and highlight Skowhegan’s food hub — an important asset to our economy.”

The committee made adjustments during the planning process to make sure that local establishments were accommodated first. Several beers and the cheese needed to be kept cold, so Skowhegan Savings Bank, a sponsor, stepped up and purchased cooler bags to hold the items.


Kristina Cannon, director of Main Street Skowhegan, left, loads brew bags for Lorie Nunes of Lexington Township on Thursday at the Main Street Skowhegan office in Skowhegan. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Animal Medical Clinic sponsored reusable ice packs to keep items within the bag cold. Maine Grains sponsored the brew snacks. Maine Cedar Hot Tubs, The Bankery and DuBois Construction sponsored the beer, allowing Main Street Skowhegan to purchase items from local purveyors while still generating a modest income from the bags, sold at $75 each.

“The fundraiser truly has been a community effort and we can’t thank our businesses for stepping up to help,” said Cannon. “From the planning committee to our sponsors, brewers, local food businesses and the volunteers who spent hours packing each of the bags, we can’t thank everyone enough for the help in making this fundraiser a success.”

Though the cancellation of Brew Fest has been a disappointment to attendees and organizers, the bags have been a success with 300 being sold in just over a week. Sales came primarily from the central Maine area; 17 came from out-of-state and a number from southern Maine.

“I know of at least one couple that’s making the trip from New Hampshire to pick up their brew bag, and they’ve already planned lunch at the Old Mill Pub on Saturday,” Cannon said. “For Main Street Skowhegan, the Brew Fest — and now the brew bag — is about promoting Skowhegan, bringing people to town and encouraging them to spend money locally, and we’re thrilled it’s working.”

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