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1812 Beer & Wine Fest draws crowds

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SACKETS HARBOR — Saturday marked the third annual 1812 Beer & Wine Festival, with miniature mugs and music for all.

The festival featured performances by the Critics, a Fulton-based band, and Sackets Harbor musician Andy Taylor as well as 14 vendors providing samples of wine and beer.

"The money we raise goes to the Sackets Harbor Fire Company. They are the sponsor of the event," festival chairman Joel H. Derouin said. He added that last year's Beer & Wine Festival raised about $15,000.

While the main purpose of the festival may have been to eat, drink and be merry, a significant portion of the event was devoted to remembering and honoring the military. The festival was an Operation Yellow Ribbon event, which means it supports Fort Drum soldiers and offers military discounts.

"We put on a community party where those townships celebrate our soldiers," said Harold E. Greer, director of Fort Drum's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.

The program partners with local communities to provide tents, beverages and inflatable children's' rides for military-friendly events, such as the upcoming Riverfest in Alexandria Bay.

"We kind of throw a party wherever we go," Mr. Greer said. "It's an easy opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and better understand each other."

"Basically this is our big draw for the military," Mr. Derouin said. "We expect three to four thousand people by the end of the day."

Among the hundreds crowding the festival site on West Washington Street in the early afternoon were Brig. Gen. Jeffrey S. and Laura R. Buchanan and Maj. Gen. Michael L. and Barbara B. Oates. The generals were there to partake in the festivities, but also to recognize the spouses of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The military has a long history with Sackets Harbor," said Gen. Oates, who rode in a horse-drawn carriage through the village earlier Saturday morning.

Thousand Islands Winery in Alexandria Bay also was supporting the military as it provided wine samples to throngs of people.

"We do a line of wines with the 10th Mountain label on it, and the proceeds go to the 10th Mountain Association," said winery manager Paddy A. Warren, Depauville, adding the winery also has adopted a platoon.

"We like doing community events as well as getting out and meeting people," Mr. Warren said.

In the end, festival-goers seemed content with the mix of commemoration and Chardonnay.

"The beer's good," said Candace C. Liming, wife of Mitch C. Liming of Fort Drum's 215th field artillery division. "I found my favorite beer here."

Moments before tapping a keg of Gen. Buchanan's brewing, Gen. Oates spoke to the crowd at large: "Anytime you can get the opportunity to drink good beer and eat barbecue, the military's going to be there."

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