Middletown’s Eli Cannon’s beer fest raises $18K for homelessness coalition

August 20, 2018


By: Larry McHugh


The summer is moving right along in Middlesex County, and the chamber continues to be on the move.


Before previewing some of the events and activities of the week, I want to officially wrap up the 13th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania which was held last Wednesday on Main Street and the surrounding areas.


This major event, held in honor of one of its founding sponsors, Dan M. Hunter, featured over 7,000 bikes and over 12,500 spectators. It was presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, and driven by Haymond Law. The entertainment was terrific, the vendors did very well, the restaurants were packed, and we are proud that the event continues to defend its title as the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England. The show bikes that were entered for awards were unbelievable, and I am happy that Middlesex County was well-represented when the bike awards were presented. In addition to Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter Family, and Haymond Law, event sponsors also included: City of Middletown, Liberty Bank, Middletown Downtown Business District, Brookfield Indian Motorcycle, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Bank of America, Gengras Motorcycles, Indian Motorcycle of Springfield, MedExpress Urgent Care, The Flood Law Firm, Marcum LLP New Haven, Witter’s Web, All American Productions, Middlesex Music Academy, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, First & Last Tavern, and WMRD/WLIS Radio. We appreciate all of their great support of the event.


I also want to take a moment to once again acknowledge the fine work of the City of Middletown personnel that worked to make it a safe and enjoyable evening for everyone. From Director Bill Russo and the team at Middletown Public Works Department, Geen Thazhampallath and the team at the Parking Department, Fire Chief Rob Kronenberger, Fire Marshal Gary Gessaro and the entire Middletown Fire Department and all of the emergency services personnel, everyone did a truly professional job. I want to especially thank the Middletown Police Department who worked very well with our staff and volunteers to make sure that the event was secure and well-organized. All of the officers and support staff were extremely helpful once again and we appreciate it very much. I thank Chief Bill McKenna, Officer Peter Batsaros, and the entire MPD for their support of the 13th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania. A special thank you also goes out to Mayor Dan Drew and members of the Common Council for their continued support of all of our downtown events. Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Event Chairman Rich Greco, Event Coordinator Haley Stafford, the chamber staff, and our over 100 volunteers for their unbelievable support of Motorcycle Mania. This event could not happen without our volunteers and we appreciate them very much. Another successful Middletown Motorcycle Mania is in the books, and we are truly grateful for the total team effort that made it possible.


This week, another busy one, features a few major chamber events and a number of other important meetings. On Tuesday afternoon, I look forward to attending a meeting of the Connecticut Culture and Tourism Advisory Committee at the DECD offices in Hartford. As I have noted many times, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will always recognize that tourism is a key economic driver in our region and throughout our state. I look forward to meeting with my fellow committee members as we continue to work to make Connecticut a key tourism hub in the northeast United States.


Later on Tuesday afternoon, I look forward to participating in the official check presentation to the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness after a record breaking Eli Cannon’s Charitable Beer Fest which was held on August 6th. The Beer Fest, which featured over 75 brewers from as far away as Maine who donated their products for all to taste, introduces people from all over the state to all that downtown Middletown has to offer. The 9th year of this terrific event raised $17,844 for the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness which continues to do critically important work that is reducing homelessness in Middlesex County. I thank Rocco and Aubrey LaMonica and their entire team at Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, and look forward to celebrating with them and the coalition on Tuesday afternoon.


Tuesday evening brings us to Westbrook for our annual Business After Work Networking Reception at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa. The Water’s Edge team puts out a delicious spread of food and drink at this annual event which always includes a little extra shoreline flavor, and the views of the beach and water are remarkable. The Business After Work is for key employees of chamber members and will, as always, feature some of the best networking around. I once again want to thank the Dattilo family, Director of Sales Keith Lindelow, Senior Sales Manager Karen Robidoux, and the entire Water’s Edge team for hosting us and for their continued support of our chamber. We look forward to a great evening in Westbrook. On Wednesday morning, our August Member Breakfast Meeting featuring UConn Head Football Coach Randy Edsall will be held at the Red Lion Hotel. The Member Breakfast Meeting, sponsored by People’s United Bank, will feature an update from the coach on the upcoming season of Husky football which begins on Thursday, August 30 vs. UCF. Coach Edsall recently returned to the position as Head Coach at UConn, and we are thrilled that he is back leading the Huskies. I want to once again thank Coach Edsall for taking time out of his schedule to meet with our membership, and People’s United Bank for sponsoring the Member Breakfast Meeting.


As the end of August draws near, planning for the month of September is kicking into high gear.


Excitement continues to build for the September Business After Work networking reception which will be held aboard the Lady Katharine Cruise Boat, “Mystique” on Wednesday, September 12. “Mystique” is docked at Harbor Park, 80 Harbor Drive in Middletown. Members can board the boat at 5 p.m. and network while docked until 6:00 p.m. At approximately 6:00 p.m., the Mystique will take a trip down river and will return at the close of the Business After Work at 7:00 p.m. This event, as all of our Business After Work events do, will feature a terrific spread of food and drink and of course, the best networking around. On behalf of the chamber, I want to thank the owner of Lady Katharine Cruises, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, for hosting this event and for their strong support of our chamber. Kevin Dodd and his team continue to great work throughout region, and we continue to appreciate their effort.


On the Member Breakfast front, the chamber will welcome FedEx Ground President & CEO Henry Maier as guest speaker on Friday, September 21. Mr. Maier assumed his role in June 2013 and is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the company. He also serves on the FedEx Corp. Strategic Management Committee. His visit coincides with the opening of the 525,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art distribution hub in the Westfield section of Middletown. FedEx Ground has more than 90,000 employees, an average daily volume of 8 million packages, and annual revenue of $18 billion (FY2017). More to come on this front as we get closer, but we certainly look forward to an exciting morning on September 21. The Member Breakfast Meeting will be immediately followed by a Lenders Forum which will feature a panel discussion and mini expo with representatives of bank, non-bank, and community lending sources. Attendees will learn how to access the money they may need either now or in the future. The event will feature information on conventional bank financing, non-bank & community business lenders, SBA & DECD loan programs and other important topics about financing your business. 


In closing, I would like to again ask that chamber members and other interested parties save the date of Wednesday, October 24 for Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County's Premier Business EXPO. This full day of events and activities will include the main expo hall with over 110 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, a career fair with over 50 employers who are hiring, our annual Small Business Awards Luncheon which will honor a number of our small business champions, and other content ranging from politics to substance abuse prevention and more. Much more information will be released as we get closer, but please be sure to save the date.


As you can see, the chamber calendar is packed with events and activities, and the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County. Have a great week!


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