Since opening in 2013, Horse Thief Hollow Brewery (HTH) in Beverly has supported the local arts scene, and its staff is now teaming up with some longtime customers for a bean-bag tournament that will highlight local artwork while raising funds for several neighborhood organizations.
“Brews, Bags and Art” will be held on May 20 in the HTH parking lot, 10426 S. Western Ave., and the bean-bag boards, which are painted by local artists, will be auctioned off for the local groups.
Registration and warm-ups will be at 11 a.m., followed by the competition at noon.
Beverly resident Kirk Shepherd, whose family has long ties to the arts community, proposed the idea about a year ago. Shepherd and HTH server Mark Matishak often partner to play bean bags, so they decided to run the event.
“Kirk and I have played in a tournament in the city,” Matishak said. “We wanted to bring that down here. The city has it, so why can’t we have it down here? We’re pretty familiar with how the tournaments run in the city.”
The Beverly Area Arts Alliance, Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association (MPBHBA), Beverly Area Planning Association and Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative will be the beneficiaries of the event.
The tournament is limited to 32 teams of two players 21 or older. The entry fee is $50.
All teams are guaranteed four games—three during pool play, then at least one during a single-elimination round.
The first-place team will receive $500, second place $250 and third place $100.
Shepherd’s late wife, Cathy, was the daughter of famous local artist Jack Simmerling and had painted bean-bag boards multiple times. Her last version, a colorful display, featured a man playing a Sousaphone, with the board’s hole in the center of the instrument.
Shepherd thought other local artists could replicate the piece with their own visions.
“It struck me as kind of a small-scale version of the Chicago cows,” Shepherd said referencing the vibrant painted cows displayed throughout the city in 1999. “Everybody starts with the same thing and then does something creative and different for it. But these will actually be useful.”
HTH Manager Lizzy Benner is doing the preparation painting of the boards, and she worked with Alliance founder Sal Campbell to bring artists Brendan McAlinden, Elaine Miller, Chris Wilczak, Ann Blaas, Jenny Kolb, Dan McCabe and Kristen Dobbins into the event.
Dobbins’ husband, Ross Weiler, built 12 sets of boards that are made of salvaged wood and include beverage holders. He’s been woodworking for six years, and he and his wife are an ideal team for creating a set of boards.
“I’m great at putting things together,” Weiler said, “but the artistic side of things, I leave to her.”
Organizers are creating a website for the live auction, and they will display the boards before the tournament at HTH and at the unveiling of the “Quantum Me” public art display at 99th Street and Walden Parkway on May 19.
The tournament will be held during Illinois Craft Beer Week, and HTH will sell its beers. These Old Men They Play Records, a vinyl DJ group, will provide music, and Cathy Sorich, a local artist from Marvelous Faces, will offer face painting. Hot dogs will also be sold.
Beverly residents Laurie Duncan Cleary and Jim Cleary are assisting with the event. Jim designed a promotional flyer featuring Cathy Shepherd’s board.
HTH often displays artists’ works at no charge, and Laurie Duncan Cleary praised Neil Byers, the brewery’s owner, for supporting the tournament.
“I think it’s a great way to show off what’s unique about the South Side,” Laurie said. “Neil is always trying to show what’s really special about our neighborhood and our community. He likes to celebrate the people.”
All proceeds will be split evenly, organizers said, and volunteers from the benefiting groups will work the event.
Caroline Connors, MPBHBA executive director, said the funds will be put to good use.
“The tournament is a great way to bring people together and showcase a fantastic local business while supporting local artists and non-profits,” Connors said in an email. “The money the MPBHBA receives from the event will go toward programming that, like the bean bag tournament, supports local businesses and promotes Beverly/Morgan Park as a destination to live, shop, play and dine.”
In case of bad weather, the event will be June 3.
For more information, visit the website at horsethiefbrewing.com.