“This is by far a tradition unlike any other,” Steve Machine, a salesman for Horizon Beverage, was saying last Wednesday night inside the jam-packed Kelley-Gazzero VFW Post 1812 on Plainfield Pike, “I can remember when it first started. We’d get over 1,000 people.”
Macchioni, a native Johnstonian who for years has been a leader in Rhode Island’s beverage scene, than added: “This crowd is nice, really nice … It’s such a great event that brings people in the community together for a common cause.”
He was speaking of the Johnston Community Center Association (JCCA) and Johnston Memorial Cancer Events (JMCE) Campfires annual Beer & Wine Tasting, which began back in 1996 when the former and famed 1025 Club on Plainfield Street was known as the place for any and all banquets and functions in Rhode Island.
“I’ve been doing this event since it started,” said acchioni, who was accompanied by Ryan Lavoie of MC Walker and Steve Barbato of Steve B Sports. “When you think about the concept – and results – it’s incredible.”
The annual event brings beer and liquor distributors together to showcase their respective products and help the two Johnston-based non-profit groups raise money for such community events and causes as military services, a holiday festival, concerts in the park and helping children who are battling cancer.
Last Wednesday evening’s event featured 23 of Rhode Island’s beer and liquor distributors.
“This tasting was again a very successful event for both our groups,” said Glenn Carroll, president of the JCCA. “Although we had fewer people than last year, it was still a good turnout.”
Carroll attributed the turnout to moving the tasting from a Friday evening to a Wednesday night due to scheduling conflicts at the Kelley-Gazzero Post.
“Again, we were very lucky to have the support of our generous and loyal sponsors that this year totaled 23 different companies,” Carroll said. “And we can’t thank our main sponsors – Graham Builders and Tri-Town Wine and Spirits – enough. Without them, we don’t have this great event.”
Carroll also issued a huge “thank you” to Judi and David Graham, as well as Steve and Bert, who own and operate Tri-Town Wine and Spirits on Putnam Pike.
This year’s tasting took on a new twist, as Steven Barbato – who owns and operates Stevie B Sports – set up a special display of valuable sports memorabilia that was auctioned off and further boosted the night’s proceeds.
“Steve’s memorabilia and accompanying silent and live auctions were a big hit,” Carroll said. “Also, a special thank you to Mark Gilmore for serving as the night’s auctioneer. And without the generosity of all the beverage companies who come and donate their time and products, we wouldn’t have this event.”
Event goers were also treated to food from Ralph’s Catering, which operates the kitchen and banquet business at the ageless Kelley-Gazzero Post.
This year’s list of distributors included North East Wines, Wine Marketing, Patriot, Copley, Johnston Brothers, Best Beverage, Wine Wizards, Diageo Chateau & Estates/Providence Beverage, RI Distributing, Fox Point, MS Walker, Tenth & Blake, Wayne Distributing, Otter Creek, Angry Orchard/Twisted Tea, Sam Adams/Curious Traveler, Harpoon, Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head, Fool Proof Brewing, Long Trail/Spencer and McLaughlin & Moran.