The area’s weather forecast for May 25 advised of the strong potential for torrential downpours and damaging winds.

Natalie Mihalek at benefit

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Guests were encouraged to mark their beer glasses, as Natalie Mihalek demonstrates.

So the organizers of an event scheduled for that day at Gilfillan Farm in Upper St. Clair sent out this just-in-case type of message:

“The Barnyard Beer Benefit is a rain-or-shine event. That being said, while damp is OK, dangerous is not. The safety of our guests is our No. 1 priority.”

And with that came the possibility for cancellation.

Yes, it did rain, enough to prompt those in attendance to seek shelter for a while. But the weather cooperated for the most part, and the sun even shone through the clouds at stretches, to make the benefit a success.

Not that it already wasn’t: The fifth annual edition of the event sold out within the first day of tickets going on sale, and the amount raised totaled about $24,000 to benefit Gilfillan Farm. That certainly is good news for its primary organizers, Rachel Carlson, president of the Historical Society of Upper St. Clair, and state Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Upper St. Clair.

The historical society, which owns the Gilfillan property, maintains, restores and makes improvements to various features of the farm, including its main house, built in 1855-57, and other outbuildings.

Rachel Carlson

Rachel Carlson greets guests with tape to put on their beverage glasses, on which to write their names.

They decided to tap into the region’s burgeoning craft beer scene and invited several brewers to participate in the inaugural event, along with purveyors of fine foods.

That tradition has continued into 2019, with beverages served by Insurrection AleWorks, Mindful Brewing Co., Sixpoint Brewery, Southern Tier Brewing Co., Spoonwood Brewing Co. and Voodoo Brewery.

Guests enjoyed food this year courtesy of Ardolino’s Pizza, Atria’s Restaurant, Bonefish Grill, Bravo Cucina Italiana, Choppin’ Block, Christina’s Confections, Coffee Tree Roasters, Eat’n Park, Fresh Market, Giant Eagle, Juniper Grill, The Porch, Toss Pizza and Wings and Whole Foods.

Jenny Ross

Jenny Ross serves up a hamburger, courtesy of Whole Foods.

Providing financial support were Brentwood Bank, Century 21, Greenleaf Lawncare and Landscaping, McMenamin Insurance Group, The Yard, Torrente at Upper St. Clair – the luxury apartment complex sponsored beverage glasses for guests – the Town Hall South Lecture Series and Victorian Finance.

Livening up the proceedings was music by members of the area band Good Man. And as you’d expect, the Barnyard Beer Benefit is duly licensed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

For more information about Gilfillan Farm and the Historical Society of Upper St. Clair, visit and

Good Man

Members of Good Man: from left, John Fish, Michael DiRocco and Jason Novak

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!