Local economies across the country are in dire need of community support due to prolonged closures and reduced operational hours for many businesses and nonprofits. The Driftless Region is no exception so several Wisconsin food- and beverage-based vendors have banded together, primarily thanks to Karben4 Brewing, to organize a “drive thru” taproom event to help raise critical funds for Taliesin Preservation and Wyoming Valley Cultural Arts Center.
Karben4 co-owner Zak Koga shares what prompted this team effort for two art-based organizations:
“Our specific inspiration for hosting this event stems from Taliesin’s Human Resource Manager Sherri is actually my neighbor. She reached out to me right after our first drive thru event at St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee. I loved the idea right away because our brewing has been trying to survive this pandemic too, plus I have been an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work since college (my dad is an architect and I am a civil engineer). I also have loved the Driftless Region since before I knew that is what it was called. I did some backpacking in the area as a Boy Scout when I was young. I also used to drive to the University of Iowa during my freshman year; I loved the scenery as soon as I got west and south of Madison. And it goes without saying that I have always loved eating all of the great food that comes from the farmers and businesses there.
The drive thru taproom was my idea and started as the “drive-by fish fry” idea when the quarantine began. Since it was during Lent, I called St. John’s parish to pitch the idea of cars queuing in their parking lot as our team loaded fried fish and beer in everyone’s trunk. By the time we got approval from the State of Wisconsin to do this style of event, Lent was nearly over and we realized our partnering restaurants could not do an event on a Friday because that was the busiest day of the week for their new take-out/curbside business model. So we moved it to another day of the week and broadened the idea to curate many products that people may want, or even staples they may need to buy, all while staying in their car in a low-risk environment.
Now as a business owner that presents a physical product to the world, I have come to deeply admire Wright’s vision. He could see the beauty of the natural world, then create a building that would add beauty to its landscape. The vision, conviction, and energy required to add true beauty to the world is nearly impossible. The rest of us mortals get to touch creation like that when we have children but to do it via your profession is a gift I admire very much.
Those planning on coming to the event should expect to receive a pen, plus a menu when they arrive on site. They will be able to review the menu, mark on the menu what they want, pay with a credit/debit card (no cash) through their window and then have the product loaded in their back seat or trunk. Depending on turnout there may be a bit of a line but rest assured we will get you through it as fast as we can. We have been successfully handling anywhere from 250-450 cars per event. Our goal is to have you on and off site within a half hour and most of the time it’s under 20 minutes. We have had a few times when the wait was more like an hour…it all depends on the turnout. It is also important to note that since this is a pop-up style event, we do run out of certain things throughout the event. It has proven impossible to guess which items will be the most popular in the different communities. It’s a first-come, first-serve model like a farmers market and if we over-supply items then we risk financially hurting the businesses involved.
On a personal note, I look forward to coming again to Spring Green twice this year. I have not yet had the opportunity to tour Taliesin (which is ridiculous considering my background and proximity). My intention is to visit this summer with my dad now that he is retired and living in the area. I have driven by the property several times on my way to early morning sales meetings at Cedar Valley, thus I hope my dad and I get a chance to binge on Wright “folklore” while we’re there.”
The “drive thru taproom” will take place in Summer 2020. Enter at the Wyoming Valley Town Hall then proceed to the Wyoming Valley School to pay and collect your goods. Cates Family Farm, Uplands Cheese, Future Fruit Farms, Enos Farms, Origin Breads, Sunborn Gardens, Sidney Bakes, Fischer Family Farm, Sassy Cow Creamery and more will have fresh goods available for purchase.