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Beans and Brews draws record crowd

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Bryan Wilson, left, shares a laugh with Marris Thompson Thursday at the 5th Annual Beans and Brews at the Rocky Mount Mills.


Staff Writer

Friday, November 8, 2019

A record crowd filled two levels inside the Rocky Mount Mills on Thursday evening for Beans and Brews, which is the signature fundraiser for the local Meals on Wheels program.

“It’s a good turnout,” Jan Warren, executive director of the local Meals on Wheels, said early during the gathering. “Everybody is having a good time. I think we’re doing really well.”

Each year, attendees get to taste chili prepared by competing teams and also get to enjoy craft beers.

Warren said that 600 tickets were sold for the 2019 gathering and that, including the beer people and chili teams, the crowd count was estimated at about 670.

Warren said that the goal is to raise $45,000 and that, “We are going to hit the target.”

The local Meals on Wheels program serves 120 people daily who are ages 60 and above and are homebound.

In the meantime, the attendees were enjoying themselves.

One of them was Warren Daughtridge, who is the founder of the LoveRockyMount Facebook page, which promotes fellowship and unity.

Thursday evening marked the second consecutive year for Daughtridge to attend Beans and Brews.

“I just like the fact that Rocky Mount can put together an event like this and bring so many people in on a Thursday,” Daughtridge said. “I was amazed when I pulled in the parking lot today with the number of folks that were out and about on a Thursday.”

Kathy Tobias, who is an interior designer, said of Beans and Brews, “It’s fabulous.”

Tobias has been coming to Beans and Brews ever since the event first was held in the nearby Farmers Market half a dozen years ago.

The event eventually was shifted to the outdoors of the Rocky Mount Mills campus before being moved inside for 2018.

Tobias said of Thursday evening’s gathering, “It just shows the great support that the citizens of Rocky Mount have for these wonderful programs that our citizens need.”

Of the local Meals on Wheels, she said, “It’s just an incredible organization — and Jan Warren is a terrific leader and has done a wonderful job.”

She had to be neutral on one point on Thursday evening because a son, Neal, was on the Tame the Flame team while another son, Jeff, was on the Bin & Barrel team.

Also enjoying Thursday evening’s gathering were Ronald Jones, who is a Nashville police investigator, and his companion, Sharece Willcoxon, who teaches at Weldon Middle School.

“We live here at the lofts — and we thought it would be a good opportunity to come help out and donate to charity,” Jones said.

Of the gathering, Jones said, “I think it’s awesome.”

Jones said, “The chili is phenomenal — and the beer is great and everybody is just having a good time.”

Overall, he said, “I think we need this in Rocky Mount. This is kind of the heart of the city — and just to get all these people for a good cause is just a great thing.”

Willcoxon said, “I think it’s fun. Everybody seems to be smiling, enjoying their chili and beer.”

Willcoxon cannot drink beer because she is pregnant, but she said of the chili, “It’s good.”

Steve Pridgen, who is in the tire business locally, said he had skipped Beans and Brews for a few years before he and his wife decided to return for the 2019 gathering on Thursday.

“This is outstanding,” Pridgen said. “It’s great chili. The people out here are great. You run into a lot of friends and people you know.”

A first-time attendee was Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson, who said, “I’ll tell you, it’s a great event.”

As for the reason why, Atkinson said, “Because it’s a relaxed atmosphere. It gives you a chance to meet new people — and people are having a great time.”

Later in the gathering, the winners of the chili competition were announced.

They were as follows in the following respective categories:

Traditional Chili: Batts, Batts & Bell (aka “Them Boys”).

Chicken Chili: Pfizer.

Vegetarian Chili: Rocky Mount Police Department.

The People’s Choice award went to Philip and Erika Thomas of State Farm Insurance.