By Jesse North Posted August 12, 2009, 5:49 PM EDT
ORLANDO With more than 250 different beers flowing, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo held its 14th annual WaZoo Beer Festival on August 1. An estimated 3,600 guests turned out to raise $110,000 for the nonprofit zoo's animal care efforts and education programs and sample the year's record number of beers.
Organized by Lowry Park Zoo special events manager Katie Olender, WaZoo invited beverage distributors to participate as either sponsors or competition entrants. Brands from local distributor and sponsor J.J. Taylor Distributing Tampa Bay Inc. made up most of the branded kiosks, with Blue Moon hosting an interactive canvas on which guests could paint and Samuel Adams offering taste tests of new brews.
The event also included food and wine. Local restaurants such as Rusty Pelican and Pei Wei Asian Diner provided food samples, and a wine garden featured more than 30 samples from local wineries, many of which bottled zoo-specific blends with names like Monkey Bay Rose.
Advanced tickets cost $50—or $20 for designated drivers—but those who forked over $75 had access to the V.I.P. lounge. Dubbed the “Beastly Beverage Club,” the section held 1,000 guests, offered special access to zoo animals, and boasted the event's lone air-conditioned area. Next up on the zoo's schedule is the annual Zoofari food festival on November 7.