Once a year, when night falls on Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, the family-friendly venue that’s known for its youth centric events — Boo at the Zoo, Stroller and Wagon Parade, and Or-Kid Escape, to name a few — opens its gates for an adults-only evening of beer, wine, and local-cuisine sampling, coupled with live music entertainment. Zoo Brew is the brainchild of the zoo’s marketing director Charlotte Roesner, whose goal is to attract young professionals and showcase the zoo’s 50-acre space, boasting more than 700 animals and thousands of botanic species.
For three hours, adults leisurely roam a designated path along Lake Victoria and Amazonia, sampling drink options from vendors such as Monarch Distributors, Easley Winery from Indianapolis, St. James Winery from Missouri, Turoni’s Brewery, and Ohio Valley Homebrewers Association, and tasting local eats from more than 15 restaurants. Patrons receive a complimentary Zoo Brew mug to taste up to 25 alcoholic beverages, plus additional samples from the home brewers.
The River City’s interest in Zoo Brew has created a sold-out attendance of 1,300 each year, and Roesner anticipates the same success at this year’s third annual event on June 9. Along with three live bands, Roesner hopes to add a few more attractions — impromptu magic and Trix Stix juggling — to enhance the atmosphere. The evening raises awareness of the zoo’s mission while also raising funds for the Evansville Zoological Society. Not to mention, Roesner says, “I think everyone walks away from this event with a beer or wine that they’ve never tried before.”