The Eastern Trail Alliance, which in previous years hosted a food-focused dressy gala, took a cue from its constituency (as well as pandemic safety) and hosted an outdoor Bonfire & Brew fundraiser Oct. 7 at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough.

More than 150 people enjoyed comfort foods and beer around campfires and bid on auction items to benefit the Trail’s Close the Gap campaign, raising $10,000 total.

The Eastern Trail Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to building a 65-mile greenway from Kittery to South Portland. Currently, there are 28.9 miles of trail through York and Cumberland. To fill out the rest of those miles, the Trail Association has three campaigns with goals to Close the Gap on the 1.6 miles between the Nonesuch River in Scarborough and the Wainwright Field Complex in Southern Portland; go Over the River in Biddeford and Saco; and, finally, Blaze the Trail South with 25 miles of off-road trail connecting Kennebunk, Wells, North Berwick, South Berwick, Eliot and Kittery.

“We can’t wait to get the trail all finished,” said Russ Stogsdill of Scarborough.

The Scarborough-South Portland project is the farthest along, and the campy fundraiser wasn’t far from a Scarborough portion of the trail, with many Scarborough-based trail users among the attendees.

“I just trained for a triathlon down to the beach and back,” said Heidi DeBlock of Scarborough. “And, around the trail by the marsh, is great for kayaking.”

Six restaurants and breweries – Allagash, Sebago, Shipyard, Nonesuch River, Fore River and Dunstan Tap & Table – stepped up to donate beer for the event. Chowder from Luke’s Lobster, mac and cheese from Nonesuch River Brewing, chili and cornbread from Dunstan, drinks from Chap’s Mobile Bar and Wild Maine Hard Seltzer rounded out the menu.

As the sun set and the temperatures dropped, folks inched their lawn chairs closer to the four campfires and passed around boxes of Subway chocolate chip cookies and warm Congdon’s Donuts.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected].

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