Monday, June 16, 2014

Born in a Bar – the Birth of Brews N’ Blues

The 19th annual Brews n’ Blues is slated for this weekend at the Leach. Let’s take a moment to look back on how Oshkosh’s longest running beer festival came into being.

The idea for Brews n’ Blues was born in the place where all the most brilliant and terrible plans are made... in a bar. In this case, the old Lizard Lounge at 141 High Avenue. It was a Sunday afternoon in late summer, 1994. Jeff Fulbright and Janic Cieszynski had gotten together for a beer at the Lizard, as they often did on Sundays.

As Fulbright worked at his beer, he bounced ideas off Cieszynski. He needed a new angle to promote Mid-Coast Brewing, Fulbright’s struggling beer company and maker of Chief Oshkosh Red Lager. Of the ideas Fulbright tossed around, there was one that resonated with Cieszynski. A beer festival in Riverside Park. The more they talked about it, the better it sounded. They’d throw a party in the park sponsored by Chief Oshkosh Red Lager. They’d rent a tent, hire a couple of blues bands, and serve Fulbright’s beer alongside a few other Wisconsin microbrews.

But it was getting too late in the year to make it happen in 1994. It would take time to get this properly organized. They decided that by the time they’d be ready, it would be too cold to stand outside drinking beer in Riverside Park. They aimed for the summer of 1995.

The following summer would come, but by then Fulbright’s brewery was a thing of the past. The last batch of Chief Oshkosh Red Lager was brewed on December 30, 1994. There’d be no beer festival in Oshkosh in 1995.

Cieszynski still liked the idea, though. In 1996 he presented it to the Oshkosh Jaycees. The first Brews n’ Blues took place in Riverside Park on Sunday, July 21, 1996. The successful event went off as planned. The only thing missing was Chief Oshkosh Red Lager.

No comments:

Post a Comment