By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — Tom McCormick saw the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center for the first time on Tuesday, in preparation for his restaurant's participation in Thursday's Art of Beer fundraiser. He was pretty impressed by the new life in the former high school, which now offers art galleries, stages and studios for area artists.
"I thought it was pretty neat," said McCormick, owner of the Town Hall Bistro in the Village of Lewiston, a first time participant in the event, who is bringing his two-year-old restaurant's specialty dish for attendees to sample — a jambalaya made with chicken and chorizo topped with creole tomato cream sauce over penne pasta.
"It's one of our signature menu items," said McCormick, whose Center Street bistro boasts nine craft beers on tap. He said he chose to bring the jambalaya because "Spicy food and beer kind of go hand in hand."
McCormick will be joining about 20 other vendors at the 8th annual event, which is the art center's largest fundraiser.
Another new participant this year will be Buffalo Wild Wings, the national franchise represented locally on Military Road.
"They're going to serve up boneless chicken wings with a variety of sauces and garlic stuffed mushrooms," said Bob Drozdowski, a NACC spokesperson said of Wild Wings.
Another new vendor at the event will be Woodcock Brothers Brewery from Wilson. "They're bringing their IPA beer selection," Drozdowski said of Woodcock Brothers. "That's kind of neat that we'll have a new beer to sample."
Hundreds are expected to enjoy the food and drink, along with music on the first and second floor of the center. Electric Rodeo and the Lakeside Blues Band performing in the Main Gallery on the first floor and guitarist Tony Petrocelli will be performing on his acoustic guitar in the Garden Gallery on the second floor.
Along with displays of beer-related memorabilia, there will be a demonstration of home-brewing techniques and a raffle of a home brewing kit.
Also being raffled is the painting which was selected for the 2014 poster, by NACC artist and staff member Kelly Buckley of Celtic Nature Studio. The painting is titled "Sláinte" which means "cheers" in Gaelic.
"I had never painted beer before," Buckley said. "I wanted to capture the light and the inviting nature of an an Irish welcome."
She said that the painting of the tempting looking mugs depicts almost everything needed for the enjoyment of a good beer. "The only thing that's missing is the person," she noted. "My goal was to invite the missing person into the piece."
Those who wish to indulge in samples of much of what makes a beer taste great, can buy tickets at the door for $35. The event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight.
For more information visit www.thenacc.org or call 282-7530.
IF YOU GO • WHAT: The Art of Beer • WHERE: The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center • WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m.Thursday • MORE INFO: Call Tickets are $35 at the door.