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Residents and Rotarians enjoy a game of bocce at the Del Mar-Solana Beach Rotary Club’s annual BocceFest. Photo courtesy of the Del Mar-Solana Beach Rotary Club.
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BocceFest to bring beer and bocce to North County

DEL MAR — Rotarians, beer-lovers and bocce-aficionados are gearing up for this year’s BocceFest, now in its 23rd year.

The bocce tournament and accompanying beer festival will take place at the Surf Cup Sports Park in Del Mar, on Sept. 29.

The Del Mar-Solana Beach Rotary Club spends the better part of a year planning and preparing for the event, which brings a few hundred locals together to support the club and a number of local causes.

“It’s a nice, neighborly thing to do, and it supports some really good charitable activities,” said Charles Foster, Rotarian and former Del Mar-Solana Beach Rotary Club president.

The annual event is the club’s only fundraiser. It has two beneficiaries this year — Just in Time for Foster Youth and Reality Changers — but the remaining monies raised will help fund other Rotarian-led charity efforts.

Just in Time helps youth in their transition out of the foster care system, and Reality Changers trains and financially assists students from disadvantaged backgrounds in becoming first generation college students.

Don Wells, executive director of Just in Time, said the organization relies heavily on civic efforts such as these, as it receives very little funding from governmental sources.

“Almost all of our budget comes from the local community,” he said.

Forty percent of the money raised through BocceFest goes to the nonprofits — which in the past, has amounted to at least $8,000 for each organization. Although the net funds have varied over the years, the club is typically able to raise between $40,000 to $60,000, according to Foster. Although purchased tickets help with overhead costs, much of the funding comes from local businesses and residents who sponsor the event.

The tournament has raised over $625,000 for local and international causes since its inception.

The event has drawn widespread community support, with both the Del Mar and Solana Beach city councils declaring proclamations in support of the event. Teams made up of the two cities’ mayors and an accompanying council member help lead a “demonstration” of the sport’s rules and compete against each other.

The rotary club provides plenty of room for players — with 30 courts able to accommodate up to 120 teams at any time. Players of all skill levels are welcome.

“It’s a fun day,” said Foster. “People can come out and play bocce in the tournament, seriously or just for the pure fun of it. Nobody has to have played bocce before.”

Just last year, BocceFest started to include brewers in the mix with a beer festival. About a dozen San Diego brewers participate, including Dos Desperados Brewery, Viewpoint Brewing Co. and Belching Beaver.

The event is also family friendly, with a bouncy house, lawn games and face painting for kids.

The cost of entering the Bocce Tournament as a team of two is $80. Beer festival tickets are $40. Registration for the bocce tournament starts at 9 a.m., and the beer festival will kick off at 10:30 a.m.

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