Fort Knox FMWR scores big with reimagined Right Arm Night gatherings

By Eric PilgrimJuly 3, 2023

Fort Knox FMWR scores big with reimagined Right Arm Night gatherings
Soldiers and civilians order a beer blend of a featured local brewery during the June 30, 2023 Right Arm Night at Saber & Quill. Once considered almost an expected event for key leaders, the monthly Right Arm Night events at Fort Knox have now become highly anticipated celebrations. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Out with the old, in with the new old.

That seems to be the sentiment at Fort Knox’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Ever since COVID restrictions were lifted, they have been busy dusting off some of the directorate’s programs and given them a fresh new approach.

And it’s working.

Take Right Arm Night for instance, says Nicholas Knight, Fort Knox FMWR marketing director.

“The numbers tell a clear story – our revamped Right Arm Night has been a hit. Participation has been phenomenal, exceeding our pre-COVID numbers,” said Knight. “Our Friday Night Socials and traditional Right Arm Nights have become anticipated events that many consider a key part of their social routine.”

Right Arm Night is a long-standing Army tradition among military members in which leaders invite a key subordinate from their staff to get to know their supervisor in a more relaxed, informal environment. The intent, according to many Army sources, is to build esprit de corps and camaraderie among other leaders and their “righthand” Soldiers.

Knight admitted that the Fort Knox Right Arm Night events had waned in recent years.

“Right Arm Night has been a cherished tradition here at Fort Knox, but like many events, over time, attendance had started to dwindle,” said Knight. “We recognized that we needed to reinvigorate this tradition to resonate with our diverse population.”

Fort Knox FMWR scores big with reimagined Right Arm Night gatherings
The tap-takeover concept has reinvigorated interest in Right Arm Night events since the first local brewery was featured Jan. 27, 2023. One brewery has even rebranded one of their beers in honor of Fort Knox. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

Knight said they had already been looking for ways to juice up the Right Arm Night program when COVID restrictions took effect in 2020.

"While we began exploring changes pre-COVID, the pandemic naturally put our plans on pause. As restrictions lifted, our vision to rejuvenate Right Arm Night came to fruition,” said Knight. “We wanted every Right Arm Night to feel unique and engaging.”

Family and MWR Business Operations chief Cory Baxter said COVID took a toll on a few of their programs, including Right Arm Night.

“When COVID happened, we closed lots of things, and the program really died down. Food and beverage in general took a huge hit,” said Baxter. “But even back then it was never really popular; it was just kind of a get-together after work for maybe 50-60 people.”

Baxter said they wanted to create renewed interest in it.

“When we tried to bring it back, we just really wanted to bring the old program back and give people a chance to do something, socialize after work, give them experience – a way to thank their righthand man, so to speak, and grab a drink and socialize on a Friday.”

One concept they introduced to reinvigorate the program was what they call “tap takeover.” During these special events, a local or regional brewery is invited to feature their beers at the Saber & Quill, which allows Fort Knox participants to sample brews they may not even know exist.

The idea for tap takeover came rather unexpectedly in the form of a text one night from Saber & Quill manager Jon Kelley, according to Baxter.

“In the text he said, ‘What would you think about this? I’ve heard of other bars in other places in collaborations with local breweries doing this sort of thing,’” said Baxter. “I thought, ‘It’s a fantastic idea!’

“We’ve been really trying to raise awareness of the Right Arm Night program, bring in new innovative ideas to get people interested in coming and socializing after work.”

Breweries in the area have jumped on board with the idea. The first was West Sixth Brewing out of Lexington, who featured their blends at the January 27 event. The second brewery went so far as to rebrand a commemorative beer in honor of Fort Knox.

The brewery, called Against the Grain, featured their commemorative blend called “The Gold Standard” at the June 30 Right Arm Night.

“Even though the rebrand is purely commemorative, it's not every day you get a craft beer specifically brewed in honor of your community,” said Knight.

Scout & Scholar Brewing will be celebrated at the August event, and Country Boy Brewing is being planned for some time in the near future.

Fort Knox FMWR scores big with reimagined Right Arm Night gatherings
Members of Fort Knox’s FMWR and Garrison enjoy food, beverage and fellowship together during a recent tap-takeover Right Arm Night. (Photo Credit: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox News) VIEW ORIGINAL

Other ideas that have helped ignite renewed interest in the monthly events include games, prizes and the inclusion of live bands.

“Occasionally we do live music – we recently brought in the As You Were rock band,” said Baxter. “Tap takeover was an original, one of the first things that we did, and it just happened to be extremely successful.”

Knight said people now anticipate the next Right Arm Night. Popularity has grown so much that they occasionally offer two on a month.

"Our Right Arm Nights have truly become a monthly highlight for our community,” said Knight. “These events provide an excellent chance for everyone to mingle, network, and build upon the camaraderie that sets Fort Knox apart."

Baxter said the program is more than just a group of folks gathering to drink beer.

“In a way we’re attempting to change the culture of the community outside of work,” said Baxter. “Before 5 o’clock Fort Knox is popular with lots of populations. After 5 o’clock we become Mayberry. The whole idea of this program is to change that.”