Beer festival promotes fellowship, health awareness

The Macon Beer Festival is more than an event that celebrates beer. The event on Aug. 24 also raised awareness for prostate cancer through the organization Pints for Prostates.

Pints for Prostates is an organization whose goal is to raise awareness about regular screenings for prostate cancer through “the universal language of beer,” according to their website.

Steve Bell started the festival three years ago, and since then it has been a huge hit in Macon. The beer festival is an annual, one- of-a-kind event in Georgia and has sold out each year of its existence.

Since last year, ticket sales at the festival have doubled. This year, the event sold 1,000 tickets, but Bell said he would like to add another 500 tickets to future festivals.

The two biggest sponsors of the festival were Ingleside Village Pizza and Coliseum Cancer Institute. While the event is labeled as a beer festival, it is more about educating men about prostate cancer and early detection of the disease. “The event even offers free PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood testing to help detect if a man should be checked to see if they have prostate cancer,” said Bell. “This not always the reason people come down for the event, but something most men have checked at the event.”

Bell wanted to start the festival because there is nothing else like it in Georgia, and he wanted to give information about prostate cancer to those who don’t know about it. At the beer festival, people can taste three different beers at each venue.

This year, there were ten venues, but most people do not make it through all of them. At each venue, there was a devotional to read.

Ben Gosden, the pastor who wrote devotionals, said, “I wanted the devotions to concentrate on a couple of things: First I wanted to emphasize the importance of Christian living. All of the devotions hopefully had practical aspects to them. Second I wanted the devotions to be accessible regardless of the depth of their faith. In other words, whether you were nominal Christian or not I wanted you to get something from reading them. So some devotions were a little lighter while others had a little more depth to them.”

The Macon Beer Festival also promotes downtown Macon. Many local businesses in downtown Macon sponsored the festival. This year, the festival raised $20,000, and $10,000 will be donated to Pints for Prostates. The rest of the money will be used locally and to prepare for next year’s event.