Whoop-ass wings and men in skimpy bathing suits

Westville Pub’s second annual ComeTogether Fest is “all about having a great time to support a great cause,” says Pub owner Lu Young. ComeTogether is an all-day, end-of-summer celebration benefiting Helpmate, a local nonprofit and domestic violence agency dedicated to “working with the community to eliminate abuse and fear.”

The mission: Listen to awesome music, drink beer, eat barbecue, burn your taste buds off (read on for details) and raise money and awareness for an invaluable community organization.

“Last year we raised $2,100 for the cause,” says Drew Smith, event organizer and Pub employee. “We’re hoping it’s going to be much bigger this year,” adds organizer and chef Paul Wilson.

ComeTogether will take over the parking lot and courtyard behind Westville Pub and the Bledsoe Building. For a suggested donation of $10, festival-goers receive a plate of homemade barbecue, with meat or tofu smoked on-the-spot by a neighbor, who will be cooking all day long. Justin Smudde (of Bandido’s Burritos) will serve up tamales (with 50 percent of the proceeds benefiting Helpmate). And beer, donated by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Sweetwater Brewery and Foothills Brewing, will be served on the outdoor patio.

Live music kicks off at 1 p.m. and continues till 9 p.m., featuring local acoustic singer/songwriter Ryan Sheffield, acoustic rock ‘n’ roll with “driving vocals” by Pirates Versus Ninjas, classic rock covers with Circus Mutt, funky riffs with Funky Max & the Funk Stars, folk/rock with Fifty Year Flood and soul/country music by The Paul Edelman Trio.

Westville Pub’s got a few sizzling activities planned for ComeTogether as well. At 3 p.m. the bravest of the brave are invited to prove themselves invincible at the Whoop-Ass Wing Eating Contest. “We’re kind of burned out asking everyone in the neighborhood for donations for a raffle, so we’re doing something new,” say Smith. The hot-wing competition promises to entertain: “Our whoop-ass wings are known for being incredibly hot, the hottest in town, no doubt,” continues Smith, laughing. “We’ll let contestants have water during the contest, and we’ll give out half-and-half to the quitters.” The $20 entry fee includes all-you-can-eat wings and a chance to win priceless bragging rights.

There will be a dunking booth set up at the festival where “The Men of Westville Pub” — employees who have posed for the pub’s annual, slightly scandalous calendar — will don skimpy bathing suits and taunt the crowd, all for a good cause, of course. The Men of Westville Pub calendar is another fundraising tool for Helpmate. The idea, says Smith, came to him and fellow bartender six years ago: “We thought, we should make a sexy man calendar … no really, we should make a sexy man calendar!” Featuring half-naked employees the calendar “objectifies men to support women,” say Smith.

ComeTogether will also feature local vendors and children’s activities including face-painting and arts and crafts (organized by volunteers from West Asheville Vineyard Church). Plus, the Westville Pub Chess Master (a man who plays chess at the pub on a regular basis) will challenge festival-goers to an intellectual duel ($5 per game, with all proceeds benefiting Helpmate). Old cell phones will also be collected at the door and will then be reprogrammed and distributed to women served by Helpmate.

The festival is about having fun, but it’s also about educating the community about the serious issue of domestic violence in Western North Carolina. “We want to raise awareness about this issue,” says Wilson, “especially in these economic times, which have made things worse.” In 2009/2010, the number of children sheltered by Helpmate rose by 48 percent from the previous year, reports Ann Flynn, Director of Development at Helpmate. The economic hardships have drastically impacted the number of women and children served by the agency, which has seen a 46-percent increase in crisis calls, and a 22-percent increase in the total number of women and children at the shelter. Join the folks at Westville Pub and help end domestic violent through togetherness.

Interested in donating to the cause? Art, gift certificates and community contributions would be greatly appreciated. Contact: 582-4381.

— Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt can be reached at asezakblatt@mountainx.com.

who: ComeTogether Fest
what: A fundraiser benefiting Helpmate, with live music and fun events
where: The courtyard behind Westville Pub, 777 Haywood Road
when: Sunday, Aug. 29, from 1 to 9 p.m. ($10 suggested donation. Info: westvillepub.com or 225-9782.)

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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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