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Poughkeepsie’s First Annual Shakesbeer Festival

Of beer and the Bard: Cheers to a new festival that pairs beer with Shakespeare

A quart of ale is meal for a king.”

If you knew that William Shakespeare penned that quote, then we have just the event for you. On Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. the Hudson Valley Community Center will host its first Shakesbeer Festival, featuring the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Touring Company’s performance of the Bard’s comedy Much Ado about Nothing, paired with a beer tasting sponsored by Half Time Distributors, a post-show “talk-back” with the performers, and a Thinking and Drinking trivia contest.

The event is the brainchild of HVCC Special Events Coordinator Lu Ann Kaldor. “It combines two of my favorite things,” she says. “I have always collected quotes for inspiration and when I noticed that a lot of my favorite Shakespeare ones made reference to drinking, I started to refer to him as Shakesbeer. When I came to the HVCC, I was asked to create a program that was interesting to the community, especially something to bring younger people to HVCC. I thought combining Shakespeare and beer would bring in a younger demographic.”

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Half Time’s new Mamaroneck store is almost twice as large as the Poughkeepsie flagship shop

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The 90-minute performance, directed by Christopher V. Edwards, sets the comedy — which is strewn with gossip, ruined reputations, and the battle of the sexes — in our modern times. Selling the idea of the festival was a small challenge for Kaldor. “Rabbi Chaim Vogel, the executive director, and the board didn’t get it at first,” she says. “But they trust me and they know I am bringing in something they would be proud of.” Al Daniels, owner of Half Time, had no such reservations. “He thought it sounded like a really fun idea,” she says.

It’s also a good way to promote Half Time’s new mega-store in Mamaroneck, which opened Dec. 26. “This store is close to double the Poughkeepsie size,” says Jason Daniels, director of operations for Half Time. Its main cooler, at 150 feet long, is the largest beer cooler in North America, and the 20,000 square foot store is the largest beer store in world, he says. “We have well over 4,000 beers in stock, with 22 on tap — the Poughkeepsie store has 12 taps — and numerous brewery tastings each weekend,” Daniels says.

The festival will also hold raffles for products from local businesses, including beer baskets from Half Time and pewter beer tankards from Zimmer Brothers Jewelers in Poughkeepsie. Proceeds from the Shakesbeer Festival will support the Hudson Valley Community Center and The Jewish Community Center for Dutchess County. Tickets are $30 each, $25 each for HVCC/JCC Members and $15 for those under 21 (845-471-0430;

Want to win tickets to the festival? Enter our contest here!

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Welcome to The First Draft — a column devoted exclusively to all things beer. Yes, that’s right, from taste-tests to profiles of brewers (and homebrewers) to expert advice (hello, Craft Beer 101), we’re going county to county, city to small town to uncover all the sudsy stuff you need to know. Heck, we’ll even let you know which brewery has the coolest looking T-shirt in town. You can expect reviews, food and beer pairings, roundups, trends, expert advice, homebrewing, profiles, big beer events, best nights out.

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