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Auburn raises a glass to celebrate women in craft brewing

Women’s History Month is off to a strong start in Auburn with theBrave Brews Festival. Dawn Schulz, co-owner of Prison City Brewing, is one of the event’s organizers. In just the past few years, Prison City’s annual Pink Boots Brew Day has grown from 20 to 80 participants.

This year, for the first time, organizers partnered with the city’s historical sites to take the event to the next level. Schulz said women have played a vital role in brewing through the ages.

"With Auburn being history's hometown and all of the different women who are part of history in this town, such as Harriet Tubman, it really was important for us to be partnered with that history and those historical sites that were doing things," said Schulz.

The Cayuga Museum of History and Artis featuring an exhibit called “Proof Positive: Wine, Beer, and Spirits of Cayuga County.” Executive Director Kirsten Gosch said it pairs well with the women’s empowerment message of Brave Brews Fest.

"For craft brewing in particular, it was really started by women,” said Gosch. “We're talking in the 12th century, but it was something that was always women's work. So it's really nice to just see it come full circle and to just see the growth in the industry and highlight women's contributions."

At the Seward House Museum, Director of Education Jeff Ludwig said William Seward often used alcohol as a political tool during discussions about controversial issues at his dining room table. For Brave Brews Fest weekend, the museum offered specialty tours exploring the role alcohol played socially among women during that time period.

"We're going to look at sort of the fun stories that perhaps some of the women in Auburn would have talked about to each other, only to each other, in the 19th century, and perhaps after a few cocktails were flowing, so stories of scandal, and intrigue and gossip," Ludwig said.

And the sisterhood of bonding over a drink continues to the current era. Kelly Guilfoyle is the founder of “Drink Like a Girl,” an organization which creates events promoting craft beer and women empowerment. She said she was excited about the energy at Prison City Brewing’s weekend kickoff event.

"There are so many awesome females,” said Guilfoyle. “Everybody is just having a blast. The beers are pouring. Everybody's taking pictures and just being so excited about being here and being part of this inclusion and celebration of women."

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.