Cider for a cause at the McKenzie Cider and Craft Beer Fest

Cider for a cause at the McKenzie Cider and Craft Beer Fest

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Cider fans got a chance to sample some tasty beverages while supporting a great cause Saturday at the McKenzie Cider & Craft Beer Festival.

The festival highlights hard cider, one of the fastest-growing alcoholic drinks since the prohibition. It also raised money for the non-profit group Belly-Full, a program that gives food to low-income students that is aimed at lasting them through the weekend.

Nancy Bigley of Belly-Full said the program was started to support Springfield’s hungriest students who also rely on free school lunch programs.

“About two-and a half years ago, I had learned of a need for students in our school district. They were coming into school hungry,” said Bigley. "High-calorie foods, nutritionally dense that get them to school on Monday ready to learn."

Now in it’s second year, the McKenzie Cider and Craft Beer Festival also supported Belly-Full in its inaugural year. Cider aficionados like Tamara Cellers said they are happy to see a recent surge in popularity for the drink.

“It's just yummy. I like beer, too. But cider is just yummy and it makes me happy,” said Cellers.

Organizer Jay Zink expect 2,000 people to attend this year's festival, a testament to cider's rising recognition in the craft beverage world. 

“There's kind of a concern… are there enough apples to keep up with the growth of the industry,” said Zink.

Cider makers like Colin Schilling of Schilling Hard Cider said that isn’t the case.

“Johhny Appleseed was actually spreading cider apple trees, not eating apples trees. They never told you that in school,” laughed Schilling.

The festival brings together 13 cidering companies and 44 breweries from around Oregon and Washington.

The event is held at the Willamalane Center and runs until 11 p.m., tickets are $15 at the door.