On Saturday, Oct. 15, Addie and Jon Kempe strolled out onto the beer field outside of Rabid Brewery ready to do battle. They were not unique in that fact on this particular weekend, as the Homewood business celebrated its fifth anniversary, or Rabidaversary, with its inaugural Box Battle Basho.
But they specifically came to battle each other.
While they were far from alone on the makeshift battlefield, when the clash of cardboard weapons and armor commenced, the siblings practically ignored all other challenges in favor of chasing each other around the field, locked in an epic battle of their own.
Their father, Kevin, said Addie came particularly ready to fight, adding some black makeup and lipstick to prepare for war that afternoon. And he wasn’t about to intervene, even when Jon — wielding a cardboard hammer and shield, and wearing a spiked helmet — playfully called for help amid the onslaught. Addie, in winged armor, came at him with a cardboard dagger and deflected his hammer with a shield of her own.
Across the field, their brother Peter was facing an onslaught of his own. Coming to the party dressed as a cardboard tank, complete with tube turret and a helmet made from a Shasta box, Peter drew a lot of attention from other combatants. They wanted to see just how much damage his armor could absorb. While he went to the ground a few times, losing pieces of his armor along the way, Peter kept fighting.
“Tobias and Raiye are always good at bringing stuff in for the whole family,” Kevin Kempe said of Rabid’s owners. “We love everything they do, and this just sounded like fun. We’re just friends, and we’ve been here for every step of it.”
“Every step of it” has been a half-decade journey for Rabid, which hit that milestone only after facing a pandemic for roughly half of that stretch. Raiye Rosado, who co-owns the business with her husband, Tobias Cichon, found it hard to put the feeling of five years into words.
“It’s unbelievable in some ways,” Rosado said. “There were a lot of really wonderful businesses that did not survive. We’re just fortunate.”
The idea for the Box Battle Basho got a great response from others at the bar, according to Rosado.
“I facetiously asked a group of people how you celebrate a 5-year-old brewery; what do 5-year olds-like?” she said. “And Tobias said, ‘They like to dress in cardboard and beat each other.’ So, it was born.”
The idea was based on a similar thing called Boxwars in Australia. Participants on Oct. 15 had to use repurposed cardboard, tape and glue, with no other materials acceptable. Rosado said she hoped people would be artistic in their creations.
“This is just a new idea and we’re just exploring where it goes,” Rosado said. “My main hope is that we destroy the art and not the wearers. It just really fit what we wanted to celebrate — the ephemeral nature of art.”
Children battled first, and the adults who dressed up had a go at it later in the afternoon. Sheena Hargus, of Oak Lawn, first visited the brewery just a month prior after a friend in Lansing recommended it. The brewery had just started to put up information about the Rabidaversary.
“I was like, ‘Do you let kids come watch?’” Hargus asked of Rosado. “She was like, ‘We want them to come participate.’”
So the Hargus family and their friends spent a week building attire and weapons for the event, with the children opting for a Minecraft theme.
“My garage has been a disaster for the week, but they’ve been very excited,” Hargus said.
Of course, Rabid is a brewery, so it opened the Rabidaversary with the release of Dwarves of Doom, an imperial coffee and chocolate stout that is the brainchild of brewer Joe Sterbenc.
“It is delicious,” Rosado said. “It’s really coffee-forward. … It felt right to do this with Joe. He’s been here from the start, and we wouldn’t be here without him.”
While bottles were expected to sell out that weekend, Rosado said Dwarves of Doom would remain on tap at the Homewood business. But Karen Koning, of Lansing — a self-described “very regular regular” at Rabid — said the brewery has plenty of good beer on tap. Her favorite?
“It used to be Sasquatch Magi, but they just came out with Morningstar, and that is very good,” Koning said.
The Oct. 15 celebration ended with live music. But Rabid’s October schedule remains packed, with Dryad’s Artisan Market scheduled for 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, and Rabid Halloween Party V slated for 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.
Rabid Brewing is located at 17759 Bretz Drive. For more information, visit rabidbrewing.com.