Funky good time to be had at 7th Annual Beer in the Bushes
As the end of season draws near, there is one annual event that prides itself on breaking the mold, standing with feet firmly planted outside of the island box – and this year, it is getting funky.
The 7th Annual Beer in the Bushes will take place March 31 from 6 to 10 p.m. on the grounds of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Nature Center. A fundraiser designed to support the SCCF’s mission and programs, it will feature tastings from nine local microbreweries, a live concert and more.
“There’s nothing else like this event on this island and that’s what’s unique about it,” Jeff Siwicke, organizer of the fundraiser with his wife, Jenny Evans, said. “This is kind of the last sigh of relief at the end of the year, where everybody can let their hair down and enjoy themselves – and drink beer.”
Evans explained that the SCCF manages over 1,800 acres of property on the islands.
“It goes toward managing those lands, as well as supporting our marine laboratory, our policy program, Native Landscapes and Garden Center and environmental education center,” she said of the proceeds.
This year’s event will spotlight the Bone Hook Brewing Co., Bury Me Brewing, Fort Myers Brewing Co., Millennial Brewing Company, Momentum Brewhouse, Naples Beach Brewery, Palm City Brewing, South Cypress Brewing and Point Ybel Brewing Company, which is the craft beer curator.
Local restaurant The Great White Grill will also be taking part.
“We have one brand new brewery this year,” he said.
“I expect each brewery to bring at least two selections,” Siwicke said.
As the craft beer curator, Point Ybel is coordinating with the others to ensure a wide range.
Samples from light to dark, and from a low alcohol point to a high alcohol point.
“We should have the full range of beer,” he said. “We’re going to try to have the full gamut.”
Siwicke added that there will be unlimited tastings with each ticket.
Evans noted that the local craft brew industry has grown over the years, providing for a selection.
“We just focus on our local craft breweries,” she said. “It’s important to us that we have the participation from our local communities.”
For non-beer drinkers, red and white wine will be on hand.
This year’s headline performer is Keller Williams, with More Than A Little.
“This is one of his side projects from a few years back that is not regularly touring,” Siwicke said, noting that they got the band together for the fundraiser. “We thought it would be a perfect fit.”
The five-piece band calls its tunes “live soulful R&B-flavored booty shaking funk.”
“The show, itself, is one of those live experiences where you can listen to the music, but this is definitely a show to be at,” he said. “It’ll have you moving from the opening notes.”
Evans noted that attendees should let their funk shine through.
“We are encouraging people to come dressed as funky as they want to be – think ‘Soul Train’ and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic,” she said. “We are promoting funkiness this year.”
While the music starts at 8 p.m., Siwicke said there is plenty to do beforehand.
“As in every year, there will be plenty of entertainment and surprises and things to discover around the Nature Center,” he said, declining to reveal what organizers had in store.
However, Siwicke provided some examples of past surprises.
“We had breakdance crews do several performances,” he said. “In years past, we have had a hidden speakeasy that our guests had to discover on their own.”
Siwicke did offer one hint.
“We’re kind of tying in with the theme of funk this year,” he said.
Siwicke added that the event continues to evolve.
“We pride ourselves on a different and new experience every year,” he said.
Tickets are $70 and come with $10 in TruxBux, redeemable at six onsite food trucks.
“All the food selections will be $5 or $10, so you should be able to get dinner,” Siwicke said.
Evans added that attendees can buy extra TruxBux if they wish to do so.
The companies Gator John’s BBQ, Red Roc Cravings, Rollin’ Raw Bar, Sizzle Truck, Sweet Cheesus and Taco Tummy will serve up dishes of tacos and barbecue, to seafood, gyros and melty cheese.
“We try to curate a whole range of foods, so everybody can find something that they’re into,” Siwicke said.
Parking will be available at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge tram lot.
“We do shuttles from there,” he said.
There will be bicycle parking on the Nature Center’s grounds.
“Carpooling and biking are strongly encouraged,” Evans said.
This year’s presenting sponsor is the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company.
“We absolutely could not do this event without their support,” Siwicke said. “They come in big every year.”
Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort and Marina is the band sponsor.
“They have grown with us as this event has grown each year,” he said.
The major sponsor is Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille.
The public is urged to pick up tickets and get down.
“It’s really a night about people getting to enjoy themselves,” he said, adding that organizers try to emphasize the “fun” in fundraiser instead of the “fund.” “This is a community-building event.”
Evans echoed that.
“All your best friends and neighbors will be there,” she said.
To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.sccfbeer.eventbrite.com.
The fundraiser is only open to ages 21 and older.
The SCCF Nature Center is at 3333 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel.