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MERCERSBURG - Thousands of people were expected to pack the Mercersburg's main street and downtown area Saturday to experience all the quaint little town has to offer and sample various alcoholic drinks.

For the first half of the day, the 37th annual Mercersburg Townfest packed the streets with dozens of arts, crafts and food vendors, with something available for all ages.

As the day shifted into the afternoon, the third annual Mercersburg Beer and Wine Festival attracted the crowds to Lions Club Park. The event is similar to an event in Greencastle in the spring, and, according to Chris Ardinger, executive director of the Tuscorara Area Chamber of Commerce, officials for both towns brainstormed the idea to host a beer and wine festival around the same time, with Greencastle's in the spring, and Mercersburg's in the autumn.

There is a specific reason Mercersburg's beer and wine festival is in the fall. Officials planned it specifically to coincide with the annual Mercersburg TownFest, in the hope visitors would come for the town festival in the morning and stay for the beer and wine festival in the afternoon.

At the time the idea was conceived, Ardinger said, the idea of a beer and wine festival was "a very unique concept" to the citizens of Mercersburg as there had never been an event like it before. Now in its third year, the event attracts 1,200 attendees to sample different brews, play cornhole, listen to some music, and simply enjoy one another's company.

Such was the case for Alicia Laureti of Mechanicsburg and Brittany Hollinshead of Greencastle. This was the first time they were attending the event and they both were in agreement as to which brew they had sampled to that point was their favorite, an apricot wheat drink from a stand called Ithaca.

"We wanted to try a variety of beers and wines," Laureti said. "I think for the price, it's a good variety."

One of the vendors at the wine and beer festival was a company called GearHouse Brewing Company, a brewery that will be opening in Chambersburg this November. As of now, the the brewery is slated to open at 253 Grant Street, but the building is still under construction. It's been two years in the making for the idea to become a reality. The company is owned by six people, Van and Heather Gray, David Kozloski and Erin Miskell, and Jessee McMath and Candice McMath. As Jessee described it, the idea was started because the group enjoyed cycling and drinking beer together and the idea to start a brewery went from there.

"We like visiting breweries and wanted to create a craft beer destination for Chambersburg," McMath said.

Saturday, GearHouse was offering a few different brews, including a pale ale with fresh hops, a chocolate porter, a spruce tip pale ale, and an Indian pale ale, with the first in that list being the most popular selection, according to McMath and the others serving the drinks. Saturday's event was the last public event the group was going to be attending before opening their business in November.

"We're looking forward to sharing our craft beer with the community and creating a place for the community to come and socialize," McMath said.

David Barr, 717-881-7020

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