Business and locals enjoy Barrels and Bites benefit


Downtown Hays was alive with activity the night of September 6.

Participants of the inaugural Barrels and Bites on the Bricks found themselves strolling down the streets of downtown, from business to business as they tried hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

“It’s a fundraising event for the Downtown Hays Development Corporation,” said Sara Bloom, the Executive Director of DHDC. “We do a lot of annual events. Only two of them are fundraisers and this is one of them.”

After signing in at the downtown pavilion, attendees received a glass to use for drink-tastings. They also received a brochure detailing items available in the live and silent auctions, a listing of participating distilleries, and a map of the twelve businesses they could visit. Business included Gella’s Diner, Lilly and Marie, and Couture for Men.

Each participating business provided their own food for guests. Guests could also try drinks from wineries and distilleries across Kansas using the commemorative glass each guest received.

“It ends with an after-party at the downtown pavilion with a silent auction, a live auction, lots of desserts, and more food and drinks,” Bloom said.

Desserts at the after-party were provided by Hays businesses, such as Augustine’s Bakery and Gella’s Diner, as well as Hays locals.

Auction items also came from a variety of Hays entities and ranged from spa days to a pheasant hunting trip.

“We’ve got everything from beach getaways to power recliners and power wheels to desserts and photos. It’s a great mix,” said Bloom. “Some of them were donated by local businesses. Some of them were donated by individuals on our DHDC Board.”

Attendees, however, look forward to more than the auction.

“I like to support the Downtown Hays Development District. I think they’ve done a wonderful job for the city of Hays. It’s a great cause to support,” said Barb Wasinger, who was attending Barrels and Bites.

She and fellow guest Anne Marie Hager also agreed that the evening is a great opportunity to try new foods and drinks.

Attendees Beth Longsdale and Emily Yarmer agreed, but also looked forward to an evening out with friends.

“I like to get away from the kids,” Longsdale said.

Barrels and Bites serves as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, but, for Hays businesses this is a vital event for one main reason.

“Exposure. Just exposure to new people. New people come to town for it,” said Randy Boggs, co-owner of The Furniture Look.

Shaun Musil, owner of The Paisley Pear, agreed that the business Barrels and Bites brought is an important part of the evening.

“You know, for us, we’re two years into owning this business,” he said. “Any event downtown usually benefits us. Anytime you bring people downtown, you get new people in your store that maybe haven’t been, and we always like to be part of that.”

As guests finished their walk through downtown, they returned to the pavillion to place their bids in the auction and hear the results of the silent auction. As the evening drew to a close, guests sat at tables arranged with flowers, socializing and helping themselves to the array of desserts brought in for the party.

“I think anytime people can spend time in downtown,” said Sara Bloom, “visiting with our wonderful businesses and being a part of the specialness that is The Bricks, is something to look forward to.”

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