Beer Cheese Festival FAQ

Moolah. Scratch. Coin. Dough. Yes, money. When we’re talking about Beer Cheese Festival though, we like to call it cheddar! The Beer Cheese Festival has been a staple in Downtown Winchester for a decade, but did you know that it’s a fundraiser for Winchester First? Read on for more fun FAQs about how Beer Cheese Festival (BCF) funds are used to enhance Downtown Winchester, who decides where the money goes, and more!

Q: What kinds of projects have you done thanks to the Beer Cheese Festival?

A: 100% of the money raised by the festival is available to reinvest in downtown Winchester. The funds never pay for staff, office supplies or other administrative costs. Some examples of projects we’ve tackled with BCF funds are:

  • $50,000 to start the Downtown Winchester Development Investment Fund
  • Ornamental trashcans throughout the downtown district
  • Maple Street beautification projects: landscaping at the Maple Street entrance to Heritage Park, enhancement to WMU property, façade improvement of Economic Development office (2. S. Maple Street).
  • Reinvestment in the festival itself – making it bigger and better each year to bring more visitors to downtown Winchester
  • Downtown district marketing
  • Mural series with local artist Phil May

Q: Do we zero out the account every year? 

A: Nope. We try to be good stewards of the funds. We allocate funds each year for projects, then save the rest. By doing so, we’ve built the fund up over the last decade so that we have been able to do some really BIG things like contribute $50,0000 to the Downtown Development Investment Fund.

Q: Who decides how the money is spent?

A: The Winchester First Board of Directors.

Q:  Who created the Beer Cheese Festival?

A:  In 2009, Winchester First invited guest lecturer Kent Burns to visit and speak with the board. He recommended that we come up with an independent stream of revenue outside of the City’s budget, just in case the City ever decided to pull back its financial support from the program.  It also gave us a pool of funds that is not tied to tax payer dollars.  This freed us up to do a variety of projects. The Promotions Committee/Downtown Business Association (which were a combined unit at the time), brainstormed and landed on the Beer Cheese Festival – a celebration of the birthplace of beer cheese. Brilliant! It was a successful fundraiser right from the start!

Q: Who runs the festival?

A: The festival is organized by a devoted group of volunteers and Winchester First board members known as The Beer Cheese Festival Committee. Winchester First staff provides administrative support.