Cottonwood Inc. really knows how to put the "fun" in fundraiser.
After all, what could be better than three days of celebrating locally prepared gourmet food and fine wine - all in service of a good cause?
That's the idea behind "Salute! A Festival of Wine & Food," an annual event that benefits Cottonwood, 2801 W. 31st St.
Salute, now marking its seventh year, will be Thursday through Saturday in Lawrence.
The fundraiser, comprised of three events - Thursday's "Mass Street Mosey," Friday's Winemaker Dinner and Saturday's Grand Tasting - typically brings in about $50,000 for Cottonwood, a nonprofit provider of employment, residential and support services for people with developmental disabilities in Douglas and Jefferson counties.
The six previous Salute events have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Cottonwood Foundation, according to Peggy Wallert, director of community relations and development.
Cottonwood Inc.'s seventh annual "Salute! - A Festival of Wine and Food" will be Thursday through Saturday in Lawrence.
Salute is presented by Standard Beverage Corp., a Kansas distributor of spirits, wine and beer, and offers participants the opportunity to sample more than 250 wines and spirits - as well as many locally prepared gourmet dishes - while benefiting Cottonwood Inc., 2801 W. 31st St., a Lawrence-based nonprofit provider of residential, employment and support services to people with developmental disabilities in Douglas and Jefferson counties.
Here are the events that comprise the three-day celebration of fine wine and good food:
¢ Second annual Mass Street Mosey, held in partnership with the Downtown Lawrence Merchants Assn., 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, allows participants to stroll along Massachusetts Street while sampling wines and food at 10 downtown locations. Tickets cost $25 per person, with a maximum of 300 tickets available.
¢ Winemaker Dinner, featuring special guest Matt McGoon, of Guenoc Estate Vineyards and Winery, wine reception at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., Friday, Pachamama's restaurant, 2161 Quail Creek Drive, a five-course meal paired by the wines of Guenoc Estate. Tickets cost $100 per person, with a maximum of 100 tickets available.
¢ Grand Tasting Event, 6:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive, attendees can sample more than 250 wines and spirits, plus many gourmet dishes prepared by local restaurateurs and caterers; event also features silent and live auctions. Tickets cost $60 per person.
Attendees at all events must be at least 21 years old.
To reserve tickets, call Cottonwood's ticket line at 840-1646, or visit Cottonwood's Web site at www.cwood.org to buy tickets online.
The Web site features complete information about Salute, including a preview of all the items available to bid upon in the Grand Tasting event's silent and live auctions.
The ultimate goal of the three-day festival is to raise funds that will be used to improve the quality of life for Cottonwood consumers, paying expenses that Medicaid dollars won't cover, she said.
"Every year, we set aside a portion of those funds for special needs that people have. We've purchased medical equipment, provided dental care, bought air conditioners and refrigerators (for the homes of consumers). It's really a way to enhance the lives of the folks we serve," Wallert said.
At the same time, Salute offers Lawrence-area residents the opportunity to nibble on fancy hors d'oeuvres and sample dozens of fine wines, hobnob with winemakers and bid on a wide variety of wine-related goods in live and silent auctions.
The festival is presented, on behalf of Cottonwood, by Standard Beverage Corp., a Kansas distributor of spirits, wine and beer.
US Bank is a major sponsor, with additional support from Lawrence's Crown Automotive.
Events sell out
For the second year in a row, Salute will kick off with the Mass Street Mosey, organized in partnership with the Downtown Lawrence Merchants Assn.
Those who purchase tickets will be invited to stroll Massachusetts Street from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, while sampling a variety of red and white wines, as well as hors d'oeuvres, at 10 participating merchants.
Tickets cost $25 per person, and a maximum of 300 tickets will be sold.
As in past years, Salute will feature a Winemaker Dinner prepared by Ken Baker, owner and chef of Pachamama's, 2161 Quail Creek Drive.
A five-course meal will be paired with wines from a selected vintner, in this case, Guenoc Estate Vineyards and Winery of California.
Special guest at Friday's dinner is Matt McGoon, one of Guenoc's owners. A wine reception starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.
Tickets to the Winemaker Dinner cost $100 per person, and only 100 tickets will be sold.
The dinner sells out every year, according to Wallert, as did the Mass Street Mosey last year.
The fund-raiser's centerpiece will be Saturday's Grand Tasting event at the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Drive.
Attendees, for $60 per person, will be able to sample among 250 fine wines, spirits and beers, enjoy a variety of gourmet dishes prepared by Lawrence restaurants and caterers, watch cooking-with-wine demonstrations and bid upon dozens of items in silent and live auctions.
Among the items offered in the auctions are rare and expensive wines, dinners prepared by Lawrence chefs, vacations and gift-and-service packages donated by merchants.
Wallert said she expected 500 to 600 people will attend the Grand Tasting at the Holidome.
Reminder of mission
There will be a new twist to two of this year's Salute events.
During Thursday's Mass Street Mosey, several Cottonwood consumers who are artists will be painting in the front window of Fields Gallery, 712 Mass.
"They're really excited about the chance to show off their artwork. That'll be a really fun thing," Wallert said.
"In addition, some of our consumers are going to be greeters at the Grand Tasting. They know about this event, and they said, 'We'd like to thank people.'"
The presence of Cottonwood consumers at the events will serve as a reminder of the nonprofit provider's mission in the community - helping people with disabilities to shape their own future.
"It hopefully will allow attendees at the events to know why they're doing this generous thing (by participating)," Wallert said.