Old Man River, MMCA partner in growler design contest

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Through a label design contest, growlers of beer sold at Old Man River in McGregor will soon get a unique touch, while also benefitting the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Growlers of beer sold at Old Man River Restaurant and Brewery in McGregor will soon get a makeover, and raise money for a good cause, thanks to a partnership between Old Man River and the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts (MMCA) to design a growler label.

A growler is a 64-ounce glass jar, and most feature their brewery’s logo, said Allison Roberts, of Old Man River.

Roberts said art classes held at the MMCA several months ago inspired the idea, the profits from which will benefit the MMCA and its programs.

“It dawned on me that people go all over to collect growlers,” she said. “Here, instead of the name, they could get one designed by a regional artist.”

“Think how creative tap handles have become,” she added. “That’s something we haven’t yet seen with growlers.”

In order to make those sold at Old Man River more unique, she reached out to the MMCA to see if any of their artists would be interested in creating a design. The contest was also opened to others, whether local residents or visitors passing through the area.

It costs nothing to enter, Roberts said. The design must simply be an original drawing, sketch or painting created by the artist. No photographs or digital works will be accepted. Entry forms can be picked up at several area locations, including Old Man River, the MMCA, the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce, the Prairie du Chien Chamber of Commerce and Valley Fish and Cheese. The deadline of Sunday, June 21 is fast approaching.

Roberts said submissions will be judged June 29 by an eclectic group of community members, who will narrow the entries down to several finalists. The public will then be able to judge the finalists, selecting the winner.

Roberts said she hopes the growlers will be available for purchase by late summer or early fall. Sut Hill, from the former Sut Hill vehicle dealership in Prairie du Chien, and Valley Fish and Cheese have already agreed to finance the initial production of labels for 50 growlers. The growlers will also note that proceeds will benefit the MMCA.

“I hope this gets enough attention to get other businesses to sponsor production,” she said, adding that she hopes to have another production completed by the holidays. 

Roberts also hopes to feature and benefit other area organizations in future contests.

“This combines a local business with local art and a local organization,” she said. “I’m really excited and look forward to continuing to do it.”

Roberts said she envisions filling the top shelf of Old Man River’s liquor rack with the different growlers. She’ll be able to point to each growler and reference the organization and how people can check it out.

“It’s an opportunity to tell a story,” she noted. “Our job [as business owners] is to tell stories and get people to come back.”

McGregor’s historic charm  tells some of the story, Roberts said, pointing out the window to Main Street, but visitors truly get the whole story when they visit the businesses.

“They can take that story with them and spread it,” she said. “It’s a unique angle to give something so simple a larger purpose than just a vessel for a liquid.”

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