It'll be freaktacular, that's for sure

May 15, 2014 • Posted in blindness, Harper, memoir writing, travel, Uncategorized by

Know what a beer circus is?

Me, neither.

I’m about to find out, though: On Sunday Mike and I are joining our friends Art and Dana Bergeron to head over to the Lagunitas Beer Circus to celebrate the new brewery the California-based company is  opening on Chicago’s south side. A story in Time Out Chicago says the beer circus is a “time-honored tradition” at Lagunitis.

“The two-day event will assemble local performers like Vau de Vire Society, Redmoon and Mucca Pazza; beer from Ale Syndicate, Begyle and Finch’s; and food trucks such as Tamale Spaceship, Chicago Patty Wagon and Fat Shallot.” I have no idea who Vau de Vire Society or Redmoon or Mucca Pazza is, and I’ve never eaten anything from a food truck before, but I know I like the beer Lagunitas brews, and I think it’s fantastic they decided to open a brewery on Chicago’s south side. A story in Crane’s Chicago business says Lagunitas owner Tony Magee, who grew up in the Chicago area, is making a long-term commitment to the neighborhood. “If we do this right, the brewery will be here for 100 years,” he said in the article. “And there will be kids born in this neighborhood next month who will grow up thinking about being a brewer.”

The Beer Circus benefits Rock for Kids, and an email Lagunitas sent after I signed up claims that “half the fun of coming to the Lagunitas Beer Circus and taking in all the freaktacular eye candy (and local beer) is being a part of it!” The message suggested we wear a crazy hat, an old Halloween costume, a random uniform.

I like to think of myself as someone who is generous to charities, and I’m eager to show off the crazy hat Marjorie (a writer in the Thursday memoir class I lead) gave me to wear, but the real reason we are going on Sunday is…Brian Ulen will be there!

That’s Brian, the happy groom, walking me and Harper to the altar just before the ceremony began.

It was a happy day for the entire family three years ago when our niece Jennifer married Brian Ulen – you blog readers might remember a post I wrote explaining how it is that their official wedding photos include pictures of my heroic Seeing Eye dog Harper at my side officiating the ceremony.

Brian has been working for Lagunitas since February, and his official title there is pretty great: he’s an Ambeersador! He’s the Regional Sales Rep for Central Florida, and Jen says that means ”he works his way around Orlando to bars, grocery stores and restaurants promoting the awesomeness of Lagunitas.”

Jen and Brian are expecting their first baby next month, so she wasn’t able to fly to Chicago for the circus. We’ll miss having her here, but of course we are absolutely thrilled about the reason she can’t come. We’ll just have to give double the hugs to Brian when we meet up with him at the circus. He shouldn’t have much trouble spotting me there – it’s pretty likely I’ll be the only elderly great aunt who is holding a white cane and wearing a crazy hat at the freaktacular beer circus.

Jen Ulen On May 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

I am sad I won’t be there to witness this Circus firsthand, but look forward to reading the recap. I sure hope your escorts are resting up their descriptive words and you are resting your ears as I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about! Enjoy a tasty beverage or three for me!! Cheers!!

bethfinke On May 16, 2014 at 9:57 am

I’ll warn my escorts to, as you wisely put it, “rest up their descriptive words.” I, in the meantime, will rest up my descriptive taste buds. Thanks for giving me the directive: I’ll drink one or four for you, Jen. Cheers!


Brigitte Erbe On May 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Elderly???? Not for another 20 years!!!! Brigitte

bethfinke On May 16, 2014 at 9:55 am

Aha! But that’s just the thing: I’ll be 20 years older than everyone else there! With that crazy hat on, though, who will notice?!??


The Empty Pen On May 15, 2014 at 9:33 pm

The beer circus sounds like a blast…I can’t wait to hear more about it.

Several years ago, I participated in Project Philanthropy. Writers, artists and printers came together to help non-profits create marketing material. We met, brainstormed, created, edited and sent to print brochures and other collateral in what we called a charette: an 8-hourcram session. It was fun and exhausting. One of the non-profits I helped create a brochure for was Rock for Kids. I’m glad to see they’re still going strong!

bethfinke On May 16, 2014 at 9:58 am

Interesting! Is Project Philanthropy still going strong?


Monna Ray On May 16, 2014 at 10:53 am


That baby will be so lucky to have you for a great aunt. I believe I’ve heard that it will be a little warmer this weekend. Hope so. / Monna

bethfinke On May 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Ah, you’re sweet to say that, Monna. I’m already trying to get myself a gig to do a presentation at a conference in Orlando in October so I can make a sidetrip to hold the new baby — have two other great-nieces down there I haven’t met yet, either and our rendezvous is long, ahem, overdue! it’s far


Nina On May 17, 2014 at 6:53 am

Does Lagunitas have a novelty truck that looks like a beer keg?( kinda like the Oscar Meyer wiener-mobile?)

When I was driving home today from Highland Park I passed this crazy little beer truck and the name of the brewery began with the letter L and had a G in it too. Just wondering???

Mike On May 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hey Beth,

Monica and I are going on Sunday too. Lori is volunteering at the event and snagged us a couple comped tickets. We’ll probably get there around 12:30 and I’ll give you or Mike a shout.

Mike G

bethfinke On May 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Fantastic! Will listen for your call tomorrow –thank you, Lori!


MaryEllen On May 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

We’ll be there too, Beth! Will definitely be looking for you and Mike. Glad to know we won’t be the only oldsters there. I just couldn’t resist seeing a beer circus and we love Lagunitas.

bethfinke On May 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

You are so right: what’s not to love?


Sue Doyle On May 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Hi Beth…sounds like lots of fun!! My friend Hanet wanted to know where it was. Is it at 18th & Wastenaw? Sounds like a field trip some afternoon!! Hope you & Mike had a great time. Very cool story…

Sue Doyle

Sent from my iPhone


bethfinke On May 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Yes, near 18th and Washtenaw –easy to get to by public trans. Let me know when the afternoon field trip is –I’m in! _____

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