The Strand hosting holiday event Sunday

SISTER LAKES — Many American families leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve to entice Santa to visit their home with presents and holiday cheer. However, this weekend, one local business is planning to use its own brews to draw the man in red and his reindeer, from Prancer to Blitzen, to the Sister Lakes area.

The Strand, 93415 County Road 690, Dowagiac, will host a special holiday event from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday. For the event, Santa will be riding to the brewery at 2 p.m. for photos with his trusty reindeer in the beer garden. At 4 p.m., live music will be featured playing holiday music. A hot cocoa bar will be provided for the children, with the brewery offering spiked hot cocoa for visitors over the age of 21. The event is free and open to the public.

In keeping with the holiday theme, the brewery will also be releasing its newest beer offering, Smooshy Imperial S’more Stout, at the event.

The Strand’s head brewer, Eddie Hengesh, said the event would provide a local way for families to get into the holiday spirit without having to travel to larger cities like Mishawaka, Elkhart or Kalamazoo.

“We really wanted to do this because we’ve noticed that we attract a lot of families, and as a brewery, a lot of our events are adult-centric,” Hengesh said. “We wanted to provide something locally where parents could bring their kids and just have a quiet Sunday, where the kids could have something fun to do while the parents relax.”

Being family friendly has long been a goal of The Strand, with Hengesh saying that the business strives to be more of a community gathering place than just a brewery.

“So many breweries are adult-centric, but for us that doesn’t fit as we are a full restaurant, and we are right now in a very small community,” he said. “If we just do beer releases and liquor-related events, that’s not really being inclusive and doesn’t benefit the community at all. So, doing events like this where it is about bringing families in and offering a family option nearby is really important to us.”

As a business, providing family friendly events in the Sister Lakes area is even more important during the winter, as much of the area’s entertainment is seasonal and only open during the summer, Hengesh said.

“In the winter, Sister Lakes kind of shuts down and there isn’t a lot to do locally,” he said. “So, we want to give families a reason to get out and celebrate a little bit, even though it is a quieter time.”

Hengesh said he hopes the people of Sister Lakes will come and enjoy the event this weekend, adding that he hopes it will get the community into the Christmas spirit.

“[Sunday’s event] is a way to get out of the house and get some festive cheer and get together with some other families,” he said.

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