Vermont Business Magazine Mill River Brewing BBQ & Smokehouse (MRB) in St Albans has recruited several northwestern Vermont artists to paint rain barrels for an upcoming charity auction that will focus on water quality.
MRB will host “Project: Rain Barrel” at its 10 Beauregard Dr. location — just off Lake Road — on Thursday, September 5. The event starts at 6 p.m. The auction begins at 7 p.m. The public and the media are invited. Admission is free. Kevin Smith, a St. Albans native and resident and co-owner of Kevin Smith’s Sports Connection, will be the auctioneer. All proceeds from the live auction will benefit the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain (FNLC).
For MRB co-owners Joyce, David and Chuck Fitzgerald, “Project: Rain Barrel” was the next logical step in the brewery’s budding relationship with the FNLC. MRB and the FNLC launched their partnership on July 11 with the release of a new beer called Lake Dayz. Portions of sales from Lake Dayz are benefiting the FNLC.
MRB is about a mile from St. Albans Bay. With Lake Champlain so close, MRB uses several tactics to conserve water, and MRB surpasses other Vermont breweries in how it addresses water quality. For example, MRB reuses much of its water through its can-rinsing system, and it reuses treated water through its Clean-In-Place (CIP) tank system. MRB will soon capture rain water from gutters and reuses it on the hops row and vegetable gardens that are at the restaurant.
“Our beliefs that small actions make a big difference has led to the Rain Barrel Auction,” David Fitzgerald said. “Our partnership with The Friends of Northern Lake Champlain is an extension of our internal actions. From the start, we wanted to make a difference outside our four walls.”
St. Albans artist Jon Young helped MRB recruit talented volunteer artists for “Project: Rain Barrel.” Young is painting two rain barrels for the live auction. The remaining artists are: Cyrus Hudak, of Enosburgh; David Winchester, of Swanton; Avery Vaillancourt, of Sheldon; Megan Martinson, of Sheldon; Joe Snoak, of Sheldon; Paule Gingras, of St. Albans (representing the Artist in Residence Gallery in St. Albans); Lydia Strider, of Sheldon; Tara Flanagan Clayton, of South Burlington; Lisa Pelletier, of St. Albans; and Jennifer Williams Thompson, of St. Albans. Twelve rain barrels will be up for bid.
The live auction will coincide with a silent auction of selected photos from the 2019 St. Albans City Mayor’s Photo Contest. This year, water quality was the theme of the contest. The silent auction of photos will benefit the FNLC and the Missisquoi River Basin Association.
“Since its inception, the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain has worked with diverse partners that have embraced the ‘All-In’ philosophy that guides statewide lake clean-up leaders,” said Dr. Kent Henderson, chair of the FNLC’s Board of Directors. “Another ongoing FNLC process is to demonstrate affordable and effective stormwater reduction devices, such as rain barrels, that the concerned public can adapt to their private residences and businesses. We are hoping for a good turnout of bidders at the auction who would like to bring a rain barrel home and join our cause.”
MRB opened in July 2017 with less than a handful of in-house brews on tap. Today, MRB offers 10 in-house brews and distributes four beers to dozens of stores from Hinesburg to North Hero, with plans to stretch east and south. (These stores carry MRB beer: www.millriverbrewing.com/brewgps.) MRB is also a full-service restaurant — with a Tap Room — that features local food.