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Bowes event to raise park/recreation funds, awareness of homebrew laws

David Starr left Wayne Richard Placko right Elgshare beer during Silverado Homebrew Club meet-up Tap House Grill St. Charles Ill.

David Starr, left, of Wayne, and Richard Placko, right, of Elgin, share beer during a Silverado Homebrew Club meet-up at Tap House Grill in St. Charles, Ill., on Thursday, June 21, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |

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Updated: October 15, 2012 9:55AM



ELGIN — The second annual Beer and BBQ @ Bowes fundraiser for the city parks and rec department is set for Saturday at Bowes Creek Country Club and its Porter’s Pub — replete with a homebrewing demonstration and talk of changing the state’s laws regarding offering samples of such beer.

Last fall, the Silverado Homebrew Club offered samples of members homemade beers as part of the event, which brought in about $6,500 for the Recreation Youth Scholarship Fund.

But the Illinois Liquor Control Commission has been cracking down on public festivities where homebrewers have been offering samples of their wares. The agency is enforcing rules already on the books that allow people to make their own beer and share it with friends, family and guests at their own homes, but ban letting such groups to offer their beers at public events.

Silverado spokesman Richard Placko said nine club members will be at this weekend’s event. The group will show how to make beer at home and probably will be helping serve commercially available craft beers that will be available.

Silverado also intends to set up a display with a “jailed” keg to draw attention to the state’s rules about giving out homebrewing samples, and efforts to change those rules.

For Silverado, the matter came to a head this summer after the club had been invited to offer samples at the Wheaton Ale Fest but was told it would not be allowed to set up because the city of Wheaton was worried about running into legal problems due to the state’s limits on the ability of homebrewers to pass out samples of their beers.

New law proposal

After hearing about that, state Rep. Keith Farnham, D-Elgin, took up the cause. This week, Farnham shared a preliminary draft of a bill with club members and event organizers that would modify Illinois’ law. It is based on similar legislation in Wisconsin, Farnham said.

Placko said he intends to share the draft with the nonprofit American Homebrewer’s Association to get that group’s input.

As proposed, the bill would allow establishments to host homebrew exhibitions, demonstrations, tastings and competitions and to charge a cover or admission fee but not for individual samples.

Farnham hopes to introduce the legislation after the November election.

In April, Peoria International Beer Festival organizers were told by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission that since clubs’ brewing equipment is not regulated and their beer is not taxed, they could not share such brews at the festival. A dozen brew clubs had been a feature at the Peoria International Beer Festival over the last 19 years. The event is a fundraiser for the local Jaycees and other charities.

The ILCC has cited the fact that homebrewing clubs are not licensed, taxed or subject to health regulations as among the reasons for the crackdown.

The event Saturday at Bowes Creek Country Club runs from 3 to 8 p.m. and offers ribs, beer, root beer floats, raffles, golf skill challenges, and music. Admission in advance is $25 for those who are drinking, $20 for those who are not having alcohol, and $5 for children. More information is at www.cityofelgin.org/bbbowes.

Parks support

While the beer bash will raise money for youth scholarships, the city council on Wednesday moved along a measure that should lead to broader financial support from the community for Elgin’s parks and recreation programs and facilities.

Since early this year, a task force met six times to discuss forming the Elgin Parks and Recreation Foundation. The group is made up of Mike Anderson of Shales McNutt Construction, former Judge Keith Brown, Brian Borkowicz of Davey Tree, Jaime Garcia of Centro de Informacion, Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce President Carol Gieske, businessman and Isaak Walton League member Bill Jones, John McNutt of Shales McNutt, former Elgin Mayor Ed Schock, businessman Mark Seigle, and Ace Hardware owner Dave Ziegler. With the help of attorney Al Kirkland, the group also created the documents needed for incorporation.

According to supporting material for Wednesday’s meeting, most parks and recreation departments and park districts in the Chicago area have foundations, including South Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Streamwood, Hanover Park, St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.

Schaumburg has raised money for youth scholarships and to develop Volkening Heritage Farm and Ken Alley Safety Park. Hoffman Estates solicits donations of real estate, insurance policies and wills and trusts, and raises money to fund youth scholarships for low-income families.

South Elgin’s foundation holds special events to fund youth scholarships and is collecting donations to help build South Elgin’s first fully accessible playground.

The Elgin foundation would be a not-for-profit with tax-exempt status. This would allow the foundation to apply for grants that the city cannot pursue.

The initial board of directors would include Brown, Gieske, educator Randall Hodges, Katie and Bill Jones, Parks and Recreation Director Randy Reopelle, Seigle and Schock.

Initial efforts are to focus on raising more money for the Youth Scholarship Fund, finding sponsors for programs and facilities that typically need a subsidy, and serving as a conduit to receive benevolent gifts, bequests and company matching gifts. Eventually, the foundation would contribute to the city to help offset some of the costs of providing parks and recreation services.



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