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Sugar House Journal

The fourth annual Sugar House Pub Crawl, a fun game for adults

Jun 29, 2018 15h05 ● By Jana Klopsch

Brian Morris (left), Payton Blackmann and Carl Dollmen (right) at the Sugar House Pub Crawl outside of Fiddler’s Elbow. (Lawrence Linford/City Journals)

By Lawrence Linford | [email protected]

“It’s the best! I watch for the ad every year because it’s always so much fun,” said Dustin Daley about the Sugar House Pub Crawl, a charity fundraiser for local nonprofits.

Daley, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, straw hat and red rimmed sunglasses was outside Campfire Lounge with four friends also going for a Parrot Head (the nickname for fans of the laid back, tropical-inspired musician Jimmy Buffett) theme at this year’s Sugar House Pub Crawl.

On May 19, starting at noon, the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce, Wasatch Brewery and Epic Brewing Co. hosted the fourth annual Sugar House Pub Crawl. Nine bars and/or restaurants participated. This year’s charity recipient is the Sugar House Santa Shack.

“Every year it falls on or near my birthday,” said Maddie Carter, a fellow Parrot Head, “So, it’s a great way to celebrate my birthday and kick off the summer.” Carter’s straw hat had a large fake margarita on top and two beautiful pink flamingos on either side with their heads plunged into the glass, looking like they were blissfully guzzling away.

“We need to mechanize those flamingos,” said Bret Chestnut, another troop member, so that the flamingo heads would bob in and out of the margarita.

City Weekly sponsored the crawl along with an assist by 90.9 FM KRCL running ads for the event. The crawl is held each year in conjunction with American Craft Beer Week. However, because turnout was significantly lower this year, organizers are considering changing the date for next year.

“Last year the turnout was phenomenal at about 2,200 people,” said Amy Leininger, chair of the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Ruin. This year’s estimate was about 800. Leininger and a few other bar owners and managers believed the downturn was likely due to several other large competing events such as the multicultural festival “Living Traditions.”

Though there were fewer attendees “people seemed happy,” said Jeff Krie, co-owner of the Trolley Wing Co., “and it’s fun to see people who are new to the pub crawl, and to our place, get really excited to be there.”

The challenge

“It’s a fun game. It’s a game for adults,” one woman said to her friends outside the Tap Room, a participating pub with the sign “Making hangovers since 1947.”

The pub crawl is part timed competition, part meet and greet, part Sugar House walking tour and bar and restaurant tour. And despite the phrase “pub crawl,” no actual crawling is required nor recommended to participate, unless necessary.

The pub crawl works like this: Starting at noon, each crawler picks up one “passport” at any of the participating nine pubs or at a booth on Monument Plaza. The passport has a map of the nine pubs and a space with each pub’s name for them to mark when you visit. After all nine pubs mark your passport; you have to return it by 4 p.m. (it was extended during the event to 4:30 p.m. this year) to Monument Plaza to be eligible to win prizes from a drawing.

No purchase is necessary (though encouraged) at each pub to have your passport marked. However, at restaurants such as Mellow Mushroom or Burgers Grilled Right, if you order alcohol you also have to order food, due to their liquor license.

The pub crawl course

The pub crawl course stretched about three quarters of a mile, mainly running east–west along 2100 South. The nine pubs this year could be organized, by location, into three groups.

One group at the east end of the crawl course, on Wilmington Avenue, included Ruin and Burgers Grilled Right. About a quarter mile west, was another group, with Wasatch Brew Pub, Mellow Mushroom on Monument Plaza and nearby Sugar House Pub and Fiddler’s Elbow (also bike taxis were available on or near Monument Plaza).

The third group, a little under half a mile west from Monument Plaza and near the 900 East 2100 South intersection, included Trolley Wing Co. and Tap Room, and at the west end of the crawl, Campfire Lounge.

Early crawling

Around noon on Monument Plaza five vendors set up tents for the pub crawl. The publicly owned radio station 90.9 FM KRCL played music on a big speaker, while a mystery person encased in a mushroom costume, promoting Mellow Mushroom, greeted people and offered free fungi hugs.

Other vendors included Epic Brewing Co., Wasatch Brewery and Topgolf (a driving range in Midvale with microchips in their golf balls that are used to track the balls). Music festival promoters touted the Bonanza Camp Out (June 22–24) and The Reggae Rise Up Music Festival (August 24–26) both in Heber City.

Leininger organized underneath the Wasatch Brewery tent to begin distributing passports. There were no signs advertising the pub crawl in Monument Plaza or throughout Sugar House, although at nearly every participating pub patrons were greeted with a cheery, “Are you doing the pub crawl today?”

Brian Morris was an early arrival and ready to participate.

“We’re bar crawlers,” he said definitively on Monument Plaza just a little after noon with his friends. “And this is our favorite crawl. It’s awesome. We love it, and Sugar House is looking so great.”

Morris, sporting a Donovan Mitchell Utah Jazz jersey, said he and his friends pick a theme for each crawl and wanted to support the Jazz for going so far in the playoffs this year.

The crawl is for all

“I’m a nondrinker, and I had a great time,” wrote Morris in an email after the crawl. “So, I think nondrinkers who want to get out and see Sugar House on foot and meet some great people should do it. Also most of the bars are also restaurants with great food.”

“I absolutely think it would be fun for nondrinkers,” wrote Daley in an email after the crawl. “The majority of places have full food menus too. For example, we had drinks at Campfire, Sugar House Pub and the Ruin but grabbed small nibbles at Fiddler’s Elbow and Wasatch. Some of the other places we just stopped in and checked out their space.”

“I think another great thing about the crawl is exploring the neighborhood and seeing what all is happening in Sugar House,” Daley said. “I live only a few blocks away from Monument Plaza, but still it seems every year they find new places that I just haven’t made it to yet.”

Tips for the Sugar House Pub Crawl

“The only tips I have is wear sunscreen, pick a group theme, take lots of photos to share on social media, drink lots of water and enjoy an awesome day in Sugar House,” wrote Morris, a veteran pub crawler.

“Keep moving,” wrote Daley, also a Sugar House Pub Crawl veteran. “It takes a good effort to make it to all the establishments, so don’t stop at each place too long. You can always go back after the party.”

“Have fun and be nice to your neighbors,” continued Daley. “Having a theme always gets attention, which leads to plenty of random people coming up to talk to you. Enjoying conversations with all the like-minded people coming out is half the fun.”

And finally he wrote, “be respectful to traffic and others not doing the crawl. It’s a unique event for Utah, and we’d like to keep it around.”

Closing time

While the sun-battled encroaching clouds throughout much of the day, by 3 p.m. pure sunshine warmed Sugar House as the Will Baxter Band began playing on Monument Plaza. Over the next 90 minutes, some danced while others stood enjoying the ambience as pub crawlers dropped off their passports.

Leininger kindly extended the passport submission time to 4:30 p.m. and after the drawing all the winners were still on the plaza, to get their prizes, as the band finished its set. Prizes included concert tickets, gift cards, bar swag and more. The grand prize was two tickets to the Idaho Brew Fest with lodging included.

“It was slower this year, but everybody had a lot of fun,” Leininger said. “And I think we can make it even better next year.”