There are many beer festivals that give a portion of the proceeds to worthy charities. Then there is the St. Baldrick’s Brew Fest, which puts its charity front and center, and will see 100 percent of the net sales go to the cause. It all goes down this Saturday at Broken Trail’s main location at 2921 Stanford NE starting at 4 p.m.
To learn more about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and this new festival, I sat down with Broken Trail owner Matt Simonds and event organizer/one-woman-army Morgan McLain.
In the past, Morgan had teamed up with Red Door, but that ended last year.
“Last year, we didn’t do a big event, Red Door was in the middle of opening several other businesses,” she said. “We decided to do a St. Patrick’s Day special at Broken Trail because the first couple of events for St. Baldrick’s were held at an Irish pub in New York.”
The small event raised about $300, Morgan said, but more is always good.
“When we were thinking about this year, after all of the kerfuffle we went through with Red Door, it made sense to do it here (at Broken Trail),” she said. “(Matt) had offered that up last year. We decided to do it here, but we asked are we just going to do a (small) event or throw a party. When the Red Door event started up, we challenged all the brewers (to shave their heads) and they came through the first year, which was great. We decided why not do the same thing, we have the space to do it, we have the licensure to do it, which is something we didn’t have at Red Door. We reached out to 15 or 20 breweries.”
Broken Trail will make use of its spacious, and fenced-in, exterior lot for the festival.
“The idea is that let’s utilize the huge space that we have,” Matt said. “We’ve basically invited breweries to come in and hopefully donate kegs if not sell it to us at a reduced rate. Then with the idea that 100-percent of the net sales will be going directly towards St. Baldrick’s. So hopefully we’ll have tents set up.”
The breweries on hand will include Canteen, Little Toad Creek, Quarter Celtic, The 377, and Tractor. Steel Bender will donate a keg, too, and the forthcoming Hollow Spirits will pop up as well (as Morgan put it best, “Hollow Spirits will be here with a banner and Frank’s head, but I don’t think they have anything to contribute, but they’re working on it.”) Fork & Fig will cater the event, and Nomad’s BBQ will park its truck and smoker at the event as well. Pop Fizz will be present, too. On the music front, Morgan said, “Red Light Cameras and Le Chat Lunatique are both playing because they love me, and so I badgered them (a lot).” The traditional act of having one’s head shaved during the event will also occur, and yes, Morgan has signed up Matt, among others.
It is no easy undertaking to put all of this together, but this year marks a milestone in Morgan’s personal life.
“It makes the most sense to have a (big) party,” she said. “This is a huge year for me, it’s my 25th year cancer free, so we had to do it up great. Why not have a party? We might as well have a big festival. It’s more fun to do that and I feel like in the long run it’s easier to do that than just have one small event.”
Morgan was lucky to survive cancer as a child, but the disease did not end with her, so she has remained active in helping others.
“Over high school and the beginning of college I actually lost three of my friends that I had known through the oncology department,” she said. “One of them lost his original battle and two of them with their relapse as young adults in their mid-20s. That, of course, hangs around with you.
“Cancer has been pretty pervasive in my family and my life. My father passed away from cancer, I’ve lost friends from cancer.”
Morgan said she also has a number of friends working in the medical community, many in cancer-related fields, both here in Albuquerque and around the country. Growing up, she was also involved in another local charity, Camp Enchantment, which helps children who are cancer survivors.
“Childhood cancer is probably the most underfunded kind of cancer,” Morgan said. “The National Institute of Health is offering only 4 percent of their funding budget to cancer research, although that’s changing now. The Scott Act passed (last week), it’s the biggest piece of legislation that ever passed for childhood cancer research. It guarantees them $30 million over the next five years. It goes to the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute for ongoing clinical research for kids who have survived cancer and longevity after that and how childhood cancer affects you as an adult.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest private organization in the country that raises money in the fight against childhood cancer, as well as helping the survivors get on with their lives.
“As an adult with cancer there are obviously lasting effects from the chemotherapy, but especially as a child who has to go through a really intense type of therapy, there are side effects that can last a lifetime,” Morgan said. “Whether it’s cognitive defects, whether that’s learning disabilities, whether that’s physical defects, you have to have something amputated. Long-term effects from childhood cancers aren’t as widely understood as adult cancers are. If you have childhood cancer your odds of having cancer again skyrocket in your adult lifetime, regardless of where you live, what you do, what you come into contact with, et cetera. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”
A huge thanks to Morgan and Matt for taking the time to sit down and talk about this important cause. We hope to see everyone out at Broken Trail this Saturday (and yes, we will get those beer lists to you before the end of the week). If you cannot attend, but are interested in donating, go the event’s official page.