By Maria King, Grandmother extraordinaire, Founder/President of Eventcrazy.com
I am pretty sure that you already know that one of the all time great food events is taking place this coming week. It is the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. The reason I am pretty sure that you know about it is because it is a media juggernaut. First it is sponsored by The Food Network which means that it features many of the networks chefs. Second, it means that the media power of all those chefs and that network are talking it up. Third, the event plays host to many of the chefs and personalities from other food related shows on other networks. That makes it hard not to see at least some promotion for it somewhere. And finally, it is promoted in the media as a big news making event. That means the morning shows are covering it as well as almost all the national and international news programs and newspapers. I said a juggernaut and I meant it.
Now having said all of that, I bet that I can tell you something that you do not know about this event; it is a fund raiser. Oh not one that gives $10,000 to charity but one that has given close to $18 million to FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. This is one of the more extraordinary events at the very top of the “fund raising with food” well… food chain. They have done a remarkable job and deserve high praise for sure. However it isn’t really necessary to produce something quite so elaborate to raise money with food.
For instance my local fire department has a Chicken BBQ to help offset costs. The local Boy Scouts here have a pancake breakfast to raise money for camp. It is all relative because there isn’t anything that you can’t raise money for using food. We all like to eat, (some of us more than others) and we all like to feel that we are helping people. It’s the perfect combination. So it is no surprise why it is used for just about everything. For instance the Hearts of Fire Chili Cook-off raises money this week by soliciting donations that will be used for new downtown Christmas Decorations. It may not be a new facility at a University but the effort is no less passionate to those who need new decorations in these tough economic times. Many of the events that I highlight this week use food as a means to raising money. Many also incorporate some local popular food into the mission and that gives it a more personal, local touch.
If you are hungry and want to feel like you can eat something that will be giving something back to your local area, look for some fund raising food events this week. Chili cook-offs, BBQ cook-offs, fish fry’s, seafood festivals, cookie sales, bake sales, pancake breakfasts, ham suppers, ice cream socials etc. I know that you can find something delicious to support. Grab the family, jump in the car and head for a fund raising food event near you this week.
Newport Seafood and Wine Festival Feb 20, 2014 – Feb 23, 2014
Since 1978, this Central Coastal festival has featured seafood and wines from Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho. Over 120 exhibitors featuring Northwest wines and seafood specialties along with merchants selling arts and crafts are on hand. Wine competitions for both professionals and amateurs take place as well.
Hearts on Fire Chili Cook-Off Feb 22, 2014
Since 2011. Two River Main Street Hearts on Fire Chili Cook-Off in the Behringer Room at the JE Hamilton Community House. Make chili from 9 to noon, public sampling from noon to 2, judging from 2 to 3. Donations also accepted for new downtown Christmas decorations!
Taste of Fond du Lac Feb 23, 2014
Features more than 25 area restaurants serving taste size bites of some of their most popular items. Plus music and entertainment.
The Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival Feb 20, 2014 – Feb 23, 2014
The Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival presented by FOOD and WINE is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities. Hosted by Southern Wine and Spirits of Florida and Florida International University (FIU), the Festival benefits FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center. To date, the Festival has raised more than $18 million for the School. Events take place at various venues throughout the area.
Smokin on the Rio State Championship BBQ Cook-Off Feb 21, 2014 – Feb 22, 2014
Since 2004. Featuring over 160 cooking teams in the Texas State Championship Bar-B-Que Cookoff, team roping and concert. Categories include Fajitas, Pork Ribs, Chicken, Brisket and Beans. Kids “Q” Cook-Off.
Winter Beer Festival Feb 22, 2014
Visitors can enjoy 4 hours of beer sampling from a variety of breweries along with live musical entertainment, food buffet, free shuttle bus service and more.
Andy’s Family Pasta Dinner Feb 23, 2014
Since 2002. Hosted by Andy Cagnetta, CEO of Transworld Business Brokers. For over eleven years, Andy’s Family Pasta Dinner extravaganza has been a huge success, drawing over seven hundred people and raising over $380,000 for LifeNet4Families. Everyone in attendance has enjoyed this fun-filled family gathering that includes activities for children.
A Taste of New Orleans: Mardi Gras Celebration Feb 22, 2014
Since 2013. The culinary tastes of Mardi Gras will fill the Main Street District during A Taste of New Orleans. This celebration of Louisiana-style cuisine, set against a backdrop of historic buildings decorated for Mardi Gras, showcases the talents of local chefs and highlights the offerings of local wineries. A Taste of New Orleans begins the culinary tour at 11 a.m. and the festivities continue at various locations until the 5pm parade. Local chefs will be doing free food demonstrations and samples every 30 minutes which can be paired with a wine tasting from a local winery.
Outhouse 500 Chili Cook-Off Feb 22, 2014
Part of the Outhouse 500 festivities. The cook-off takes place from 10am – 1pm. Come and sample chili inside the Farm Museum, live music, free kids activities, get set for the Outhouse 500, which starts at 1pm. 5,000 Attendees