Creative Fundraising During A
Crisis – Making Beer from Orchids!
How A Small Rotary Club
Gives Back In A Big Way!
October 2020 would have marked the 25th Anniversary of the popular Southern California Gubler Orchid Festival. The festival, located in the high desert above Palm Springs, had been held annually in early October, and typically raised $28,000+ which directly benefited up to 20 local non-profit organizations throughout the Morongo Basin. The festival’s sponsor, the Yucca Valley Sunset Rotary Club, and its partners worked collaboratively to bring this upscale event to local community residents and people from as far away as Los Angeles & San Diego and featured orchid greenhouse tours, classes, American Orchid Society judged orchid show, wine & cheese tasting, craft beer tasting, non-profit information booths, vender booths, music and food.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yucca Valley Sunset Rotary made the decision to cancel the 2020 Orchid Festival. Not wanting to give up on the motto of “Service Above Self”, Chris Gubler, a Rotarian for over 20 years and Dario Guerra of Joshua Tree Brewery, a 5-year partner & donor to the Orchid Festival, developed a new fundraising idea that would comply with CDC safety guidelines and allow the opportunity to raise money for non-profits struggling to survive during the pandemic.
The result of this creative collaboration was “Brews, Blooms & Barbecue”, a drive-through event to comply with social distancing and safety held October 2-3 at Joshua Tree Brewery in Joshua Tree, CA. “Brews, Blooms & Barbecue” offered drivers and passengers the opportunity to purchase the locally famous “Sharry Baby” beer made from the edible Sharry Baby Orchid plus many other craft beers, colorful blooming Orchids and accessories from Gubler Orchids, and take-out barbecue sandwiches from Bruce’s Place.
Over $12,000 was raised at this unique event and exceeded all expectations and goals. All funds were channeled through Yucca Valley Sunset Rotary for distribution to six worthwhile local causes to help them make a difference in peoples’ lives during the pandemic.
The excitement and generosity of the Morongo Basin residents and business community has shown that lemonade can be made from lemons, or in this case, beer can be made from orchids for a profitable fundraiser.