wine pull photo

Melissa Boyer, director of the Foundation for Community Care, pulls a numbered cork for a bottle of wine during the Wine and Food festival's contactless Wine Pull. The fundraiser sold 170 of the 200 bottles tapped for the event.

This year the annual Wine and Food Festival for the Foundation for Community Care faced more than the usual set of challenges, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in spite of that, event organizers were able to take the idea out of the box it was in, and convert it to a virtual, contactless experience that captured, if not the ambiance of years past, at least the essence, and raised a substantial amount of money to support community-wide health care.

“The wine pull is one of the favorites of the event, so this year, we decided to double down on that,” Foundation for Community Care Director Melissa Boyer said. “Instead of 100 bottles, we did 200, and we put a few zingers in there to make it interesting.”

Meanwhile, artists were bringing in art, even before organizers knew exactly what they would be doing for the event, Boyer recalled. That dedication just helped underscore all the reasons the event has become a community favorite.

By Saturday, which was the end of the event, the Wine Pull had sold 170 of the 200 wine bottles available, an outstanding result given the pandemic circumstances, which nearly doubles the wine sales of years past.

The art auction, meanwhile, which went all virtual, raised around $6,255. There were also outright donations of $50, not to mention the South 40s sponsorship, the Tap House event, Sidney Health Center’s sponsorship, and many and various donations that will be coming from restaurants that participated in donating a portion of proceeds from one of their event specials.

There is also, yet to come, donations from sales out of Marissa Eberling’s pop-up Badlands Clothing shop, which was open Saturday only. And the Rush donated a dollar per car for those who went through their drive-through on Saturday.

Boyer said the annual Wine and Food Festival meets critical needs for the community, and that is a factor in its popularity, and is the basis for the event’s ability to rise above the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents.

“The Wine & Food Festival is a wonderful event for the community and Foundation for Community Care. More than anything it is a way to get people together and spread the mission of our organization,” Boyer said. “In light of our current situation, I count this year’s events as a huge success, only thanks to our artists, our restaurants, sponsors, donors, and unwavering supporters who stick with us through thick and thin. None of what the Foundation does happens without this community!”

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