Beer community kicks in to help McDowell County animal shelter

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

It’s hard to say who will come out on top at Jack’s Mountain Preserve in Old Fort on Wednesday, July 18 when the area’s beer community shows up to take place in the first Brewery Foot Golf Tournament. 

But the animals at Rusty’s Legacy in Marion, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of animals in Western North Carolina, will be the undisputed winners. 

A group plays a round of Foot Golf at Jack's Mountain Preserve in Old Fort, which will host the  Brewery Foot Golf Tournament at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18.

Deena Wade and Larry Deal, owners of Jack's Mountain Preserve, opened a foot golf course on top of the existing nine-hole traditional course last summer. The sport combines aspects of golf and soccer and seemed like an ideal spot for this kind of event. 

"I thought it would be fun to have the breweries come out here and play each other," Wade said.

She reached out to two well-known breweries in the area, asking them if they would be interested in participating in a tournament for charity. 

"Wicked Weed Brewing and Pisgah (Brewing Co.) both immediately said they'd do it," Wade said. "They've been very supportive."

Lucy Adkins will be among the foot golfers representing the Black Mountain Ale House in a tournament in Old Fort on Wednesday, July 18 that will benefit Rusty's Legacy in Marion.

Wade found more support in the Swannanoa Valley in the form of the Black Mountain Ale House. 

Finding a charity to help was even easier than getting teams to sign up, according to Wade. 

"We picked Rusty's Legacy because I've been very moved by how dedicated that organization is to its mission," Wade said. 

Founded in 2010, Rusty's Legacy takes in dogs that would otherwise be put to sleep in others shelters. In many cases the animals are rehabilitated and adopted. 

That was all Lucy Adkins, head bartender at the Ale House, needed to hear when Wade approached her about getting involved. 

Melissa Autumn Raines and Liibre Brousseau will be among the employees representing Pisgah Brewing Co. in the Brewery Foot Golf Tournament at Jack's Mountain Preserve in Old Fort on Wednesday, July 18.

"To me it's all about the dogs," she said. "Foot golf sounds really fun, but when I heard there were going to be dogs from Rusty's Legacy there I was like 'we're in.'"

Melissa Autumn Raines is the Buncombe County sales representative for Pisgah Brewing Co. and plans to represent her brewery on a team with driver Libre Brousseau. 

"We have a great relationship with Larry and Deena," she said. "Larry's band, The Big Deal Band, has played at Pisgah since they got started. They've done a lot of fundraisers here and they've done a lot for the community."

That lines up with the ethos of the Black Mountain-based brewery, Raines said. 

"Our motto is 'we all drink downstream' and what that means is that we understand what we do effects other people down the way," she said. "So we try to do things to give back to the community as much as we can."

Wade hopes to register nine teams for the 1 p.m. tournament, which she believes is a great way to help a local organization and showcase the golf course and the unique sport that's played there. 

"The idea of bringing local brewers and foot golf together seemed like the perfect combination for fun," she said. "We also wanted to bring people out to see foot golf and what a great sport it is because a lot of people still haven't discovered it."

Raines, Adkins, Brousseau and the vast majority of the beer community participating in the tournament are among them. 

"I've never played it before," Raines said. "I'm more of a volleyball girl myself." 

Participating breweries will pay entry fees based on a sliding scale, Wade said, and the event will feature a blind taste competition. Fans looking to watch their favorite breweries play in the tournament can pay $10 per person and follow along on the cart path. 

The Big Deal Band will perform following the tournament. 

"We think this is going to be a really fun way to spend a summer day," Wade said. "We'd love to see the community come out, watch some foot golf, taste some local beer and help out a very dedicated non-profit in Rusty's Legacy."