Downtown bars and breweries to take part in Mardi Gras Pub Crawl

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PITTSBORO — Beer enthusiasts and cocktail lovers alike can grab their green, gold and purple attire, extravagant bead necklaces and mysterious masks to participate in the first ever Mardi Gras Pittsboro Pub Crawl on Saturday.

Ten participating Pittsboro establishments — including bmc brewing, Red Moose Brewing, Carolina Brewery, and stops at The Plant and more — will offer Mardi Gras-themed drink specials during the event.

Registration isn’t required, and the pub crawl will also feature a “Green Transit” shuttle bus — a 100% biodiesel usage bus — to transport participants to five of the pub crawl stops.

Event organizer Greg Stafford, along with several Pittsboro business owners, collaborated to create the event to bring more people to downtown Pittsboro to explore the bars, taverns and breweries the town has to offer.

“We are trying to pick up nights that don’t have anything, get a bus and bring new people in Pittsboro and Chatham County and bring them downtown,” said Stafford, who’s developing the SoCo commercial project in downtown Pittsboro.

Tami Schwerin, co-owner of the Plant, on Lorax Lane, said she is excited to be able to host a portion of the events there, where some of the pub crawl stops are located.

“We (The Plant) are very much off the beaten track, and the number one thing that people say to me when they come down is, ‘I’ve never heard of this and I live down the road,’” Schwerin said. “We absolutely want to expose more people to The Plant, and this event will help to do that.”

This isn’t the first pub crawl Stafford has organized — he, along with some of the bar owners and Schwerin participated in an Oktoberfest Pub Crawl in Pittsboro last fall. Stafford said normally these types of events need a couple of years of trial and error to gain popularity and traction.

The Oktoberfest event, however, was an overwhelming success.

“These things usually take two to three years to build up, so we did Oktoberfest and shockingly, we filled up these places with people,” Stafford said. “At bmc, there were 40 people down there around 11 o’clock at night. For Pittsboro, that’s huge.”

John Rice, co-owner of bmc brewing, said the Oktoberfest event was such a success that when he and his wife Carmen were approached about being one of the stops for the Mardi Gras celebration, his answer was simple.

“We had a great experience with that (Oktoberfest), so we just joined in again with Mardi Gras,” Rice said.

Rice’s business will feature $5 pints on Saturday for the pub crawl participants, and he said he has other forms of entertainment for guests who come to bmc brewing.

“We’re going to have a three-piece jazz band playing, there’ll be a food truck on site here so they can get some snacks if they want,” Rice said. “We just want everybody to have a good experience.”

The Mardi Gras Pub Crawl is a great way for people in Pittsboro, old and new residents alike, to come out and support local businesses they may not have heard of before, organizers say.

Schwerin said one of the reasons Stafford approached her about the pub crawls was to highlight local businesses that some Pittsboro residents may not be aware of.

“He wanted to put Pittsboro on the map because we have all these cool little mom-and-pop bars and drink vendors,” she said. “Our big mission is buying local and all the businesses on this route are our local mom-and-pop type of businesses — it’s my mission and my passion is to support these small businesses.”

Pittsboro is also experiencing unprecedented growth through the Chatham Park development. Stafford said he wants residents of the development — set to bring between 50,000 and 70,000 new residents to the area in the next few decades — to come explore historic downtown, as well as for old residents to meet the new people coming into the area.

“If you go to the old downtown and surrounding area, if I go into those bars, I know everybody — it’s the same people, but if I go into some places in Chatham Park, I don’t know anybody,” Stafford said. “This is an attempt to unite those two groups together.”

With the constant growth, Stafford said he has seen new businesses come to Pittsboro, especially over the last two years.

With the new organizations and establishments continuing to pop up across the town, Stafford feels it is important to highlight local businesses, especially as Pittsboro expands to Chatham Park.

“Pittsboro is growing quickly, and we need to avoid the fates of downtowns in other areas where when a huge development comes in, new and old residents will go to the new areas, but not vice versa,” he said. “We have what’s there, we just have to get people to get there and that is what this event is.”

As a business owner, Rice said he wants to make sure bmc brewing is exposed to as many new and old residents as possible, and the Mardi Gras Pub Crawl is a way to draw new customers into The Plant and his own establishment there.

“We’ve only been open for just over seven months, so the more people who know about us and know that there’s more options down here at The Plant or be able to actually locate The Plant in the first place,” Rice said. “We want to give them an opportunity to be part of this celebration and find some new businesses and some new locations and enjoy what we think is a great place to hang out.”

For Stafford, he hopes for these events to continue to not only be successful, but to continue to liven the downtown scene in Pittsboro.

“When I first did this, I expected a very marginal uptick from event to event, and it looks like it is going to be even more so,” Stafford said. “I don’t expect Main Street Pittsboro to look like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but if we can start approaching that, that would be great.”

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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