The sun began to set, the live band played on and the crowd flocked to the dance floor, all to enjoy their time being “Barefoot at the Beach.”
Every year, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo host the Barefoot at the Beach event at Maumee Bay State Park to practice philanthropy while having a party. Proceeds from ticket sales go directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo.
The event features numerous tents of local food vendors like Ventura’s, Manhattan’s, Maddie & Bella Coffee Roasters and more handing out food to those in attendance. There are also two full bars for guests to purchase drink tickets and spend them on their drink of choice while dancing the night away to live music.
Barefoot at the Beach had its inaugural celebration in 2002, as the brainchild of Former Executive Director and Current Board Member Dave Wehrmeister.
“In 2000, shortly after becoming the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo, board leadership came to me to say that they were not interested in doing the multiple fundraising efforts (holiday auctions, concerts, themed dinners, hot air balloon festivals, and many others) that we had been doing to help fund the mission of the clubs,” Wehrmeister said. “Our challenge was to develop a new plan for future funding for the organization.”
Wehrmeister worked with a special committee and spent the next year exploring options, with the priority to create a signature event that the clubs could grow to become a staple of the community and the clubs.
When the event began in 2002, it was slow to attract guests, with only a few hundred attendees and one food vendor providing a beach themed menu for guests. Over the years, Barefoot at the Beach continued to grow and became one of the largest local events.
“Much thanks must be given to Maumee Bay State Park, the sponsors who underwrite the event, the contractors, the countless hours of the many volunteers, the restaurants who share their prize dishes, the media, the many entertainers who perform at the event, the board and staff members of the Club, and so many others who help to make this fun signature event a reality,” Wehrmeister said.
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The food vendors, volunteers and attendees all agreed that being a part of the event and donating toward a great cause was a special feeling.
“Ventura’s has been a part of the community for over 38 years and we love giving back to the community that’s supported us,” Valerie Scott, owner of Ventura’s, said. “The Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo is an amazing organization and we are happy to be serving food out here and supporting a great cause.”
This year, the band playing the event was Madison Avenue. With trumpets, saxophones, guitars, vocals and more, the band had the crowd dancing the night away – and felt proud to do so.
“We’re able to support the young children in this city with the money that we’re able to raise and it’s a really worthwhile cause,” Olaf Gerhardt, the trumpet player and logistics man for the band, said.
Candice Harris and Danielle McCray, two of the event’s attendees, came to support the event because of its community notoriety and the opportunity to put their money toward helping children.
“We figured we’d come out and support the event today to support a great cause – not only that, but we wanted to come out and have a great time,” Harris said.
“It’s just a beautiful event,” McCray said.
Overall, Wehrmeister and everyone else involved with Barefoot at the Beach believes in the impact an event like this can have. The Boys & Girls Clubs earned around $250,000 from the proceeds of the event.
“This amazing event has helped to shine a light on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo and the work they do to provide hope and opportunity for thousands of children in our community,” Wehrmeister said. “I am proud to have been part of this amazing organization and the best event of the year.”
For more on Barefoot at the Beach or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo, visit bgctoledo.org.