Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finding Fun on the Cheap

We love entertainment on the cheap, and free is even better. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to attend the High Country Beer Fest, which was a blast, even for the non-beer drinker, such as myself. Even better... we got in for free!

Benny signed up about a month ago as a volunteer for the festival, so that meant that he helped to set up and then worked a two hour shift. This also meant attending a training event on Friday evening, where they served barbecue and had music and beer on tap afterwards. So, needless to say, the training event was far less boring than most. After his set up time yesterday, he came home for a few hours. Then we went back together, me as his designated driver (which meant I got in for free), and attended the event. Benny served his shift by passing out glasses to everyone with a wrist band (which indicated that they were of age and had paid for a ticket). Later, when his shift was over, he sampled several beers (pouring some out along the way), and found several unique ones that may find their way to our fridge over the next few months.

I spent the time attending the workshops on brewing and pairing beers with foods. Of course, I found these incredibly interesting since I love to cook and like to eat even more. One workshop was on pairing cheeses and beers, and though I didn't drink any beer, I tasted some excellent cheeses from a local wine and cheese shop. In addition to the information and tasting, they also offered a 25% off coupon for any cheese in their store. And you know how I love coupons! Then, I went to a workshop on pairing beer with dessert, which I have to say I was a bit skeptical about. However, they quickly proved that they knew what they were doing. The spiced pecans were fantastic, and I can only imagine how good a glass of the raspberry lambic would be with the raspberry crepe they served. The puffed pastry drizzled with caramel and spiced pecans was fantastic, and the flourless chocolate torte was to die for!

When we finished up, we walked through the Broyhill Inn and stumbled upon an exhibit of water color paintings done by local artists. They were all professionally framed and for sale, and we found one that we decided to purchase for Christmas for each other. At $50, it was a steal for local original art, especially since it was already matted and framed. Even though we're really trying to save every cent we can right now, we felt like it fit our Christmas budget and we could more easily swing it since neither of us had to pay to attend the beer fest.

After that, we had dinner with friends (pot roast, salad, and homemade banana pudding for dessert... yummm). All in all, a fantastic way to spend the Saturday of a holiday weekend... relaxing, learning, and spending time with friends.

So, the next time you see an event you'd like to attend, but the ticket price is too steep, don't hesitate to investigate further for volunteer opportunities. It may be that it will provide you with more opportunity to learn about the event than just by attending at the full ticket price.

What about you? How have you found ways to enjoy the holiday weekend while sticking to your budget? Did you grill out with friends, labor around the house on some long-awaited project, or something else entirely? I'd love to hear how you did it, while saving what you could of the planet and your paycheck!

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