Rotary Club – VetFest is ‘Coachella with one band, better food’  

Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano, Friendship Foundation CEO Kelly Stroman, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, and Manhattan Council Member Richard Montgomery at last year's Manhattan Beach Rotary VetFest. Simmons is a partner in Rock N Brew, which participates in the event. Photo courtesy of Manhattan Beach Rotary

by Kevin Cody

Chiropractor Chris Ullman, and Kinecta Credit Union CEO Keith Sultemeier were having lunch at Nick’s in Metlox Plaza in 2018, discussing options for a Manhattan Rotary scholarship fundraiser. 

Ullman suggested an Oktoberfest.

Sultemeier liked the idea. He volunteered Kinecta as the title sponsor.

Bad idea, fellow Rotarian and then Manhattan Chamber president Kelly Stroman said when the two presented the idea to the Rotary board.

October in Manhattan is the 10K, the Hometown Fair, the Skechers Pier to Pier Walk, and the Jimmy Miller SurfFest, Stroman pointed out. She suggested November.

Veteran’s Day is in November. The Rotarians have 19 military veterans. As a result, the scholarship fundraiser became known as VetFest and has been held each year since 2018 over the Veterans Day Weekend in the Kinecta Headquarters parking lot at 1440 Rosecrans Avenue, in Manhattan Beach.

This year’s VetFest is Sunday, Nov. 6, from noon to 6 p.m.

The highlight will be the recognition, at 3:30 p.m. of a scholarship namesake from Manhattan Beach. Ullman declined to identify her in advance of the event, except to say she died tragically in 2017.

VietFest food will include a Texas BarBQ, featuring ribs, brisket and pulled pork, courtesy of Sultemeier, who towed his 16-foot smoker from Texas when he moved to Manhattan Beach. Participating restaurants include Rock N Brew, Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster, Brews Hall, Fish Bar, Lido, and the Creamery. Participating craft breweries will include Common Space, Surfridge, Uplift, El Segundo Brew, Hopsaint, Hermosa Brewing, Smog City, Yorkshire, and Monkish. Several wineries will also be represented.

The Members Only Yacht Rock band will perform.

“Think of it as Coachella, with one band, but more food,” Ullman said.

Proceeds will benefit the Rotary Scholarship Fund for Mira Costa High, and El Camino College students; the USO; and Team Rubicon, a veterans organization that is presently providing disaster response services in Florida to Hurricane Ian victims.

Admission is $50. Tickets are available at ER


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