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Firestone Walker beer festival draws crowds to Paso Robles

Barrelmeister Jeffers Richardson pours a large bottle of Feral One, Firestone Walker's Barrelworks American wild ale.
Barrelmeister Jeffers Richardson pours a large bottle of Feral One, Firestone Walker's Barrelworks American wild ale.

The Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest is, of course, about beer. To Paso Robles, it’s also about hometown pride.

That’s because the beer festival, in its third year, raises money for a longtime celebration of Paso Robles’ rich agricultural history: Pioneer Day.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and the Pioneer Day Committee “thought the invitational was a great way to simultaneously show off the great attributes of Paso Robles and superior craft beer,” said Brenda Clouston, a Pioneer Day director. “Turns out, we were right!”

On Saturday at the Paso Robles Event Center, nearly 50 breweries from around the world poured beers for more than 3,000 attendees coming from 24 states and five countries, organizers said.

To draw attention to the local cause, Pioneer Day tractors and a wagon were set up among the brewery booths and Central Coast-based food vendors.

Organizers declined to share how much money the festival raised, but Allen Bowman, who’s on the festival’s planning committee, said 100 percent of net proceeds from ticket sales go toward Pioneer Day. Clouston said the funding is crucial to maintaining and restoring the antique tractor collection.

A donation of $40,000 also went to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. Firestone Walker co-founder Adam Firestone, a former Marine, and Pioneer Day representatives presented the check during the festival.

“Pioneer Day Committee members share his patriotism,” Clouston said.

The 84th annual Pioneer Day, which includes a parade, bean feed and other activities, is set for Oct. 11.

The invitational, recently named by CNN Travel as one of the “Top 7 Don’t-Miss Beer Fests,” is slated to return next year.

“We believe we have a really good formula right now for the event,” Bowman said.

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