Brewfest benefits community theater

Courtesy photo Entertainment for the Rails & Ales event includes The Pub Crawlers, a local swing and blues band who played at last year’s Rails & Ales,

For one day, the spotlight will not be set on the stage, but will instead focus on the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona. On Aug. 25, Altoona Community Theatre (ACT) will present its annual Rails & Ales event. Approximately 80 beer, cider and seasonal drinks will be on tap for the brewfest. They include local breweries and national brands.

Held rain or shine, the museum, trains and tracks that pay homage to Altoona’s railroad heritage will be the backdrop for the event. It is expected to draw 1,000 people for an afternoon of lighthearted pleasure.

Rick Vanevenhoven, one of the originators of the popular Pints for Pets and current president of ACT and chair of this event, noted there are differences between other regional brewfests and Rails & Ales.

“This one is different; it’s more playful. There’s corn hole games, music, beer sampling and some activity that’s different than other brewfests. It’s a well-rounded event that’s more fun for participants,” he said.

In addition to entertaining games, two bands will perform music during the event. The Pub Crawlers, a local swing and blues band who played at last year’s Rails & Ales will return, and Shallow 9, a popular party rock band, will also perform.

To add to the enjoyment of the day, admission to Rails & Ales includes a souvenir sampling glass, pretzel necklace and free popcorn. Additional food will be available for purchase, including Doug’s Dawgs from Hollidaysburg.

Many seasonal Oktoberfest beers will be featured at Railes & Ales.

“It’s going to be held at the beginning of the Oktoberfest season, so there will be lots of Oktoberfest beers,” said Vanevenhoven.

This event is the biggest fundraiser for ACT, which puts on performances throughout the year. According to the ACT website, 100 percent of the actors who perform are from the region and are unpaid. They volunteer their talents to the stage simply to further the arts in Central PA.

“It’s a very important event for the theater. It’s our largest single day fundraiser and is very well-received and well-supported by the community,” said Vanevenhoven.

The approaching Rails & Ales will help support ACT’s upcoming 2018-19 season, which begins in September. “We’re opening with ‘Steel Magnolias,’ a Southern comedy that was popular years ago,” said Steve Helsel, executive director of ACT.

He also said “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Mama Mia” will be performed in February and May, respectively. These productions are aided by Rails & Ales. In addition to the event helping to bring these productions to life, the event is also a good time.

“It’s a fun outdoor event and a great opportunity to taste different beer and to enjoy bands in a nice outdoor space. It’s a fun three hours,” Helsel said.

Vanevenhoven agreed. “I love the atmosphere of the Railroaders Museum. It’s a nice sized venue, enclosed and has a great stage. There are concerts there all the time; we’re fortunate to have that stage available for the bands who will perform. I love the feel. It’s what Altoona is all about. It’s a nice location for a casual, fun, yet responsible event,” he said.

If you go

What: Rails & Ales

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday Aug. 25

Where: Railroaders Memorial Museum, Altoona

Admission: Tickets are $30 before the day of the event and $35 the day of the event

More information: Visit www.railsandalesaltoona .com to buy tickets or to find locations that sell tickets. Or call 943-4357 for more information.