It could have been the volume of people, the thermostat or the abundance of wine. But most of the 500 or so people who Saturday night meandered through the Lawrence Holidome's ballroom had a telltale rosiness in their cheeks.
For $100 a ticket, patrons could sample an ounce of 20 of the 200 wines on display. Salute! A Festival of Wine and Food capped a three-day series of events in its sixth year that last year raised more than $55,000 for Cottonwood Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to adults with developmental disabilities.
A solid slice of the total raised last year came through auctions. Saturday, patrons perused more than 100 donated items for sale through silent and live auctions. Many of the lots' values exceeded $100.
Dwight Stanford, of Kansas City, Kan., said he bid on almost everything.
"I go around twice and see if I got outbid, and if I did, that means I made people bid higher," he said with a mischievous look in his eye.
A few standing tables dotted the floor, and a few dozen chairs relieved guests near a cooking demonstration. But most who attended kept roving through a maze of tables, sampling food and wine to their taste buds' content.
"It's best to keep moving," said Jim Scott, of Scotty's Wine and Spirits in Fort Scott. "Balance it with food."
A list of available wines was provided, but the idea wasn't to go name-brand shopping, said Randy Phalp, of Lenexa.
"There's such variety that you have to try a few things so you can find what you like," he said.
The festival also featured Thursday's $20-a-ticket Mass. Street Mosey, a new event in which participants sipped and strolled simultaneously, and Friday's $60-a-ticket Winemaker Dinner at Pachamama's. All the events nearly sold out, and the amount raised each year keeps expanding, said Michelle Cray, communications coordinator for Cottonwood.
"It's really growing by leaps and bounds and becoming something that people in the community are familiar with and attend every year," she said.
Cottonwood pools the money into a trust, which pays for items like air conditioner repairs and dental care.
"We provide things that Medicare can't provide," Cray said.
Standard Beverage Corp., the event's sponsor, also stages similar yearly events to benefit organizations in Wichita, Manhattan and Kansas City.