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Fifth-time participants are aiming to win the seventh annual “Thirsty Games”



Billings, Montana – For the past seven years, Thirsty Street Brewery transforms into the bar Olympic central in Billings in the middle of February. And folks are eagerly anticipating it.

With 18 teams competing, Thirsty Street Brewery launched their 7th annual “Thirsty Games” on Saturday.

“We get asked all the time, ‘you’re hosting thirsty games again this year, right? When are the signups? When can we sign up?’ So, as soon as we get the signup available people are really excited,” said Jill Dawson, owner of Thirsty Street Brewing on Saturday.

When Dawson and her husband Shay had the idea to organize the games years ago, they ran with it and never looked back, according to Dawson, they run Thirsty Street Brewery, which is situated at 2123 1st Avenue N. in Billings. They claim it’s a fantastic method to connect people in the winter.

“It’s fun and interactive in the middle of February. It gets people moving and drinking beer,” added Dawson.

Teams of two compete in the games, and the top three finishers win prizes. The first prize is $100 in cash, followed by a $50 gift card and a $25 gift card. Greg Gabel and Zach Hassler are members of the “Balloon fighter squad,” one of such squads. 15-year-old friends who have participated in the games five times.

“Zach and I, about five years ago, saw that the thirsty games were happening, and we attended that first game. We ended up doing really well, we went to the finals,” said Gabel on Saturday.

However, the streak came to a heartbreaking conclusion. They’re aiming for a first-place finish this year after a number of second-place results over the years.

“It’s the losses that really motivate us. We’re like Jordan coming back after losing to the Pistons. And we feel like if we can win this year, we might just retire from the sport completely,” Hassler said laughingly.

Many competitors have a tendency to retire at the top, thus Gabel and Hassler might already be planning their next move.

“We’ll either coach or get into broadcasting like anybody when they finish up their career. You do one of those two paths probably,” Hassler laughingly added.

The two said they were humble going into this year’s competition and were prepared to give every event their “A game,” but that winning everything would be a fantastic result.

“It truly has been a magical journey, the whole five- or six-year ride. It’s truly been a couple magical finishes and we’ll see if we can finish it off this year in a special way,” added Hassler.

The “Balloon warrior squad” saw a fairytale ending when Greg and Zach won the competition on Saturday in what Thirsty Street owners Jill and Shay described as “dramatic fashion.”

They said they were just grateful for the chance to have a terrific day of fun on a day that saw their now six-year adventure come to an end with a first-place finish.

“I really just appreciate a local brewery playing the games, it’s something you can come do and spend an afternoon having fun with your friends and other friends and compete in games,” added Gabel.


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