LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Beer aficionados can sample up to 80 craft brews, nosh on dishes from local restaurants and help children in need this weekend at Beertopia.
The craft beer festival from 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court, will feature 80 beer vendors, food from nearly a dozen local restaurants, a silent auction with trips from North Carolina to Costa Rica and live music.
"The beer vendors are going to speak about their different types of beers, how they're made, how they're processed," said Terri Davis, executive director of the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society, the group putting on the event.
Most of the money raised will go to a foundation set up through The Eye Center to provide free eye exams and eyeglasses to Manatee County school children.
School nurses are able to give out vouchers for free exams and glasses if a child in a low-income family is in need. The money will support the voucher program.
"After having a conversation with these nurses, we're
finding out that the vouchers are highly sought after and they could use about 200," said Sarah Mackie, an ophthalmologist with The Eye Center and co-owner of the foundation. "We're hoping in the future as we raise more money that if a kid needs surgery we can send them to an ophthalmologist and pay for the surgery."
Organizers are hoping to raise at least $20,000 through Beertopia.
Tickets are $50 in advance, or $60 at the door.
Purchase tickets at one of The Eye Center locations: 2003 Cortez Road, 5106 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton or 8947 U.S. 301 N. in Parrish.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow @sabrinarocco on Twitter.