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Sugar House Journal

Second ‘crawl’ pivots to charity, planted in building community

Sep 18, 2015 22h07 ● By Rhett Wilkinson

Summer Shumway and Scott Fletcher completed passports to select winners of a Sugar House Pub Crawl drawing. A similar function, the Sugar House Fall Crawl, will take place Sept. 19. Photo courtesy Tony Coppola

By Rhett Wilkinson

Rain poured. Even Sugar House Monument Plaza was canceled as an event venue. Still, the Sugar House Pub Crawl enjoyed success on May 16, with between 2,000 and 3,000 participants. Bars enjoyed one of their best days of the year.

But as event coordinators planned the next crawl, they believed that change was needed.

“The fact that this has a charitable component is the major difference,” Organizer Tony Coppola said. “We realized that we wanted to do more than have people running around bars drinking.”

Someone spoke up. She suggested that for the second round, The Sharing Place should benefit.

“Summer Shumway… brought The Sharing Place into the equation,” Coppola said.

Proceeds from the Sugar House Fall Crawl will go to the organization, which offers grief support for children. The Fall Crawl is from noon to 6 p.m. Sat., Sept. 19 on Monument Plaza and at 10 participating bars.

“As the organizing group, we were not interested in making money off the endeavor – and once we saw what an impact the first Crawl had, we felt it was a great opportunity to support an organization or a cause,” said Shumway, the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce board chair. “I had recently learned about The Sharing Place and felt it would be a wonderful opportunity to support them as well as raise an awareness of them.”

Event coordinators included personnel from the Wasatch Brewery and the Chamber, the official host of the event. Sponsors are City Weekly and KRCL, Coppola said.

There is no paid admission.

Bars open at noon. Entertainment on Monument Plaza, where dancing is welcome, will include Color Animal from 4:30-6:30 p.m., with a raffle drawing at 5:30 p.m. for anyone who fills out a “passport” for all 10 participating bars. Attendees only need to stop at the bars to get a stamp on passports, which can be picked up at any of the participating locations or on the plaza. Passports must be turned in by 5 p.m. on the plaza. Prizes will include gift cards, general swag and more and come from participating bars. The grand prize is two tickets to the Friday night session of the 2015 Great American Beer Festival Sept. 23-26 in Denver.

“(The festival) is currently sold out, so these are pretty coveted prizes,” Coppola said.

Participating bars include Campfire Lounge; Mellow Mushroom; The Bar in Sugar House; East Liberty Tap House; Sugar House Pub; Trolley Wing Company; Fats Grill; The Annex by Epic; Wasatch Brew Pub; and Fiddler's Elbow. Part of the payments that bars made to participate in the Crawl will be given to The Sharing Place. A booth will be set up on the plaza for attendees to donate.

Shumway has enjoyed organizing the event.

“It has been fun to watch different businesses who, quite possibly, would normally be competitors join forces,” she said. “I loved the idea of potential competitors joining forces. A pub crawl is like a walking tour – only better.”

Shumway applauds Coppola, a Wasatch Brewery manager, for doing the “heavy lifting.”

Coppola said that it has been exciting to put together this crawl because the format for the last crawl, organized by the Chamber and Wasatch Brewery with Epic Brewing’s Ryan Kluh, made it much simpler than it would have been for organizers to figure out what was needed and “expand” it.

“It’s been great because we’ve established a much better community of bars and restaurants in Sugar House, working for the cause of the neighborhood,” Coppola said.

The greatest challenge to pulling off the Fall Crawl was various “moving parts,” including working with the city for permits, aligning schedules of bars and restaurants, and working with sponsors to get the event right, Coppola said.

“Just trying to create an event that will be successful that people can enjoy,” Coppola said. “It’s hard because it’s such a large space and hard to get everyone involved and create a format so that they all understand the way that it works. That end goal is a difficult goal to accomplish.”

Epic Brewing’s Matthew Allred wanted to do a function similar to a beer garden or Oktoberfest, but the setup would have “chopped up the space in a really awkward way,” leaving no option but significantly smaller participation. Now, the plaza can be utilized and an emphasis can be placed on the re-development of the city, he said.

It is helpful that the crawl is occurring where the trolley is and where there are new restaurants and businesses – and 15 bars and restaurants are located within just a few blocks, he said.

At the first crawl, there were “zero issues” and lots of participation.

“I think that goes a long way with the city, with local politics, just to see that people can be responsible and take care of themselves,” Allred said.

Ideally, a larger space should be utilized, but the logistics involved with alcohol, and pouring it, given high levels of regulation, make that challenging, he said.

“We need to work with city partners and find something that makes sense for Sugar House,” Allred said. “Hopefully that’s something we can put together for 2016.”

And Shumway is excited for round two in 2015.

“How often can you say having drinks and hanging with friends can be so benevolent?” she asked.