The Brick City Beer and Wine Festival (‘BCBF’) was the brainchild of two Ocala-Silver Springs Rotary Club members, Tarn Thompson and James Clardy. The planning started in 2013. The idea was to create a signature charity event for the community at large. An event that could grow organically with the community in perpetuity. An event that each year would identify a program, a cause, a project, a charity or an organization. We defined the selection of such an entity to have either local, historical, or national significance. An entity that needed a platform for awareness or an organization that needed funding to support their cause in the community.
The next step was to form a Committee. The Executive Committee became Tarn Thompson, James Clardy and fellow Rotarian, David Tillman. The event soon became a collaborative effort with fellow Rotarians from the Ocala Sunset Club, Steve Rudnianyn, then President of the Sunset Club. The event is unique offering a charitable cause, coupled with an entertainment component, in a park setting, with sound and stage, providing beer and wine tasting, a Kid’s Soda Saloon for attendees 12 & under, and a variety of food trucks. The goodwill and big hearts of many Rotarians, aided by the staffing and support of the City, allow the BCBF event to give all monies raised directly to the organization or charity selected.
Another unique component of the BCBF is how event planning takes place each year. The organizations selected will participate directly in the planning and fundraising, promoting sponsorship and selling tickets along with all members of the sub-committees. Our sub-committees are loose, casual, energetic and passionate. We all come together at the table, to give the best of ourselves, to serve the interest of these organizations, and community because we know it’s right. Operational support and event planning, Leighandra Gibbons, and Deanna Morey, from Tillman and Associates Engineering, with brewery and winery vendor procurement. Staffing and personnel coordination Patricia Sutton, who is a member of Sunset Rotary Club.
It is dynamic to see all these moving parts coordinate their efforts, and professional skills, putting on a professional event, that Ocala can be proud of. The net result over the years has proved worthy of the task and cause.
As an Executive Committee, when we reviewed the past several years and see what an impact BCBF had on Marion County Literacy Council, Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, Interfaith Emergency Services, David Tillman challenged all of us to step up our game and commit to make 2023 BCBF about all three charities! After a record number of sponsors and attendees, the event raised $140,000!!
With such success, we are back in motion to have a hugely successful event in 2024. Save the date for Saturday, March 30, 2024 for 2pm-6pm. We’ve set the bar even higher and aim to raise at least $150,000. With all of us involved in making the BCBF the best event Ocala has, with the biggest hearts, supported by a cast of business leaders, Rotarians, private and public business entities, we believe we can deliver.