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Three specialty beers, provided by Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, Broadway Brewery and Logboat Brewing Company, highlighted a fundraiser for the Roots N Blues N BBQ Foundation’s Blues in the Schools program.
Beer and blues enthusiasts sipped on Flat Branch’s “Bluesberry Lager,” Broadway’s “Jam Session IPA” and Logboat’s “Peach Lookout” for the third annual Brews for Blues Keg Tapping. One to two dollars of every beer sold went toward the Blues in the Schools program.
“Really, the history of all our music is based on blues,” Betsy Farris, executive director of the Roots N Blues N BBQ Foundation, said. “The program focuses on music, art and history. So it really crosses several different areas, which is cool for the kids because they are having fun learning about history through music.”
The Blues in Schools program started in 2007 at Grant Elementary School, but has grown tremendously over the past eight years. Farris said that, as of last summer, all 19 elementary schools in Columbia were participating in the program.
Music educators are brought in for an assembly — or even a weeklong residence — to teach, play and write original blues music with the elementary students. Some of the students’ songs will be performed at this year’s Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, in September.
“We start at the fourth grade level because it is a great age; they are very open,” Farris said. “It is amazing how music can break down the barriers. You see the kids in an assembly, and while they are learning, they forget about everything else.”
The Blues in the Schools program is making a difference across mid-Missouri, but Farris wants to take the program statewide. Some teachers are working on a special curriculum for the program, so it can be easily integrated into schools.
“Music and art are the first programs to be cut from our curriculum when money is tight,” Farris says. “We are just trying to continue to bring culture to our kids.”
Flat Branch hosted the event, where nine “GuitarHenge” sculptures were on display. Local businesses can make a donation for a local artist to create a personalized GuitarHenge. The donation equally supports the artist and the Blues in the Schools program.
The total amount of proceeds from the event won’t be known until all the bottled specialty beers have been sold out at each location, which will probably take a couple weeks. Even though the event has passed, donations can be made by purchasing the beers— while supplies last.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said that one hundred percent of beer sales went toward the Blues in the Schools program. Two to three dollars of every beer sold go to the program.
Photos taken by Karen Pummill.