Best of the West Beer and Wine Fest to offer a variety of beers and wine

August 2, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — The 2018 Best of the West Beer and Wine Fest is just around the corner and organizers are planning on making it better than ever.

For the eighth year, the NEXT Young Professionals will host the event with the proceeds going back into the community. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 11, 4-8 p.m.

On average, the event sees 500 people attend to sample a variety of beers and wine.

This year, co-chairs Jennifer Urdiales and Jonathan Hunzeker are in charge of helping organize a few changes. There will be a DJ instead of a band, there will be four food vendors and a picnic table area.

“The big thing is, with the changes to the plaza, we have more room,” Urdiales said. “This year we can make as much use of the combined space as possible.”

The event is held in the downtown Scottsbluff plaza on 18th Street. Over the course of the last couple of years, a parking lot was turned into a green space and 18th Street between First Avenue and Broadway was closed to motor vehicle traffic. The beer and wine tasting was done on the concrete area where parking is allowed, but there was little room for anything else.

NEXT has partnered with Main Street Market, who is organizing the selection of beer and wine. More than 35 wines and 35 beers are expected to be available for tasting.

“They are adding to the selections,” Hunzeker said. “It looks like we will have a varied selection.”

Urdiales said the selections will not be the typical drinks, such as Budweiser or Coors, that you can get at a sit down restaurant.

“This is outside that box,” she said. “Each tasting will also have an info card so everyone can know what it is they are tasting.”

There will be a selection of stouts, IPAs and, new this year, seltzers. The seltzers are spiked waters that are similar to malts.

During tasting, attendees will have the opportunity to vote on the people’s choice category for the best tasting item.

Money earned during the event will go toward a local organization. The bicycle racks downtown were made possible due to the efforts of NEXT. So, too, was the gazebo in the downtown plaza. This past year, NEXT gave $10,000 to the Riverside Discovery Center to go toward the building of their new bear exhibit.

In the past, NEXT has also provided the money to downtown remodeling.

“We recently found the city is doing a lot of that on their own and all of us get to be the beneficiary,” Hunzeker said. “Last year, we ventured out to see what else we could do in the community.”

The Scottsbluff Police Department will provide security at the event. No one under 21 will be permitted to enter. You must have photo identification in order to enter, regardless of age.

Last year, Scottsbluff Mayor Randy Meininger was turned away without ID. Urdiales said, once he returned to his car and obtained his ID, he was permitted to enter. There is a reason for the strict rules.

“We want this to be a safe, fun event and we want it to continue for years on end,” she said. “If you don’t have ID, you won’t get in.”

NEXT is still looking for a volunteers to cover the 6-8 p.m. shift. If you are interested, contact Laurie Buhlke at Lbuhlke@capc.com.

The NEXT Young Professionals Best of the West Beer and Wine Fest will be held in the 18th Street Plaza in downtown Scottsbluff on Aug. 11 from 4-8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Main Street Market for $25 until 3 p.m. on the day of the event. Tickets can also be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/next-8th-annual-beer-and-wine-fest-tickets-47187359663?affefbeventtix. Tickets will be $30 at the event.