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By Anna Lothson
The fifth annual Oak Park Micro Brew Review kept Marion Street hopping as visitors from more than 160 communities in 17 states came together to share their love for craft beer.
Attendance at Saturday's event was up more than 20 percent over last year, and it was the first time the fest was held since South Marion Street was renovated. The completion of that project allowed the Downtown Oak Park business district and the Pleasant District to unite for the event.
The Micro Brew Review, hosted by Seven Generations ahead, the Illinois Brewer's Guild and the aforementioned business districts, brought in more than 3,000 visitors who were able to choose from among 50 craft brewers serving 100 different beers.
"We were ecstatic about the outcome," said Gary Cuneen, executive director of Seven Generations Ahead. "It was just a gorgeous day."
He attributes the high attendance to a combination of good weather, location and the rising popularity of craft beer. Since the event is in its fifth year, he said those who follow the industry can count on the Oak Park event maintaining this level of quality from year to year.
In addition to a cold beer on a warm day, Cuneen said the Brew Review promotes a good cause.
"We get to educate the general public [about green practices]," he said, "While having a great time drinking."
Proceeds from the event help the mission of Seven Generations Ahead in its effort to
build healthy, sustainable communities and schools throughout the Midwest. The "zero" waste component at the fest involved using 6,000 plates, 3,000 eco-spoons and 4,000 napkins that were compostable. Signs from past events were repurposed and even the T-shirts were made with non-harmful chemicals.
Food offerings from local establishments like Barclay's American Grille, Winberie's, Mancini's, The Perfect Dinner, Kinderhook Tap, Khyber Pass, Gilbert's Craft Sausages and Marion Street Cheese Market topped off the event. Live music was also featured.