Todd Ruggere sat by himself at the bar of the Plane View Restaurant at Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Normally his visits cause quite a stir, but it was a Wednesday afternoon and nobody knew he was coming — he just needed a place to get a beer.
Mr. Ruggere is touring the state of Massachusetts and drinking a beer in each of the 351 towns, all in under a year. The Plane View Restaurant in West Tisbury was number 237.
His other stops on the Island last week included the Aquinnah Shop, the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, the Chilmark Tavern, Sharky’s Cantina in Edgartown and the Lookout Tavern in Oak Bluffs.
The idea was sparked one day while Mr. Ruggere was trying to name every town in the state. He says he looked at the map and had the thought, “what if I had a beer in every town?” He then decided to turn the tour into a charity to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
When he visits a town, Mr. Ruggere generally notifies his watering hole of choice to make sure that the cameras and checkbooks will be there. Proprietors will often organize fundraisers to help bring in donations, charging patrons an entry fee or offering a 50/50 raffle. So far, he has raised over $25,000.
Mr. Ruggere said that his tour has exposed him to the varied peoples of Massachusetts and, in many cases, to their immense generosity and hospitality. He remembers his visit to Gosnold, a dry town of only 75 residents, where he received a call offering to help him find a beer.
“I got this call from the town hall saying, ‘hey, we figured you might be having some trouble in Gosnold,’” Mr. Ruggere said. “They threw me a big cookout with the town, it was incredible.”
Although his beer of choice is Samuel Adams, Mr. Ruggere will usually try out a town’s local brew. But his support of Samuel Adams has been so steadfast that Jim Koch, the brewery’s chairman, has even visited him on the road.
Mr. Ruggere’s visit to the Vineyard didn’t raise much money but with a quest such as this even failure can be a good time.