Approximately 200 Bartow area residents clinked their glasses and raised them to the arts and fine food at the Bartow Rotary Club’s inaugural “Toast to the Arts on Friday-Florida Fresh Wine Pairing and Arts Celebration” held this past Friday, Nov. 1, at the Bartow Civic Center.
The event was hosted by Rotary to finance the club’s vision project and other charitable efforts in the community, according to event chairman J.C. Martin.
The evening featured the pairing of “Fresh From Florida” foods with complementary wines, coupled with art displays and a silent and a live auction.
Artists at the event included Glenda Losh, Carol Hughes, Richard Powers, Trish Sheppard; performance artist Tony Trotti; and world renown Highwayman artist Robert Butler. With the exception of Butler, the artists were all members of the Arts Ensemble Education Foundation, according to Ensemble spokesman Jane Waters-Thomas. Also featured were local authors S.L. Frisbie and Samantha Bayarr.
The diverse menu featured asparagus with Hollandaise sauce paired with a white wine. It was followed by mahi-mahi with fresh Florida mango salsa, also with a white wine. The main course was braised beef short ribs with rice pilaf coupled with a red merlot, and the meal’s conclusion was Key lime pie partnered with a sweet white dessert wine.
Fred Martin, owner of The Wine Stable , arranged for the wines provided by Republic National Distributing Co., with sommelier Eric Sellers and assistant Julie Edmonds. The meal was catered by the County Seat Cafe in Bartow, developed by owner Bill Mills under the guidance of Martin and event coordinator Tommy Griffin. The two also coordinated the wine selection with Republic National Distributing Co.
A highlight of the evening event was watching the progression of a joint painting done on site by Powers and Butler, which wound up on the auction block, selling for $550. It was purchased by Don McLean.
Also up for auction at the Friday event was the first original poster art for the event which was painted by Hughes. It was purchased by Frank Johnson. Rotary Club President Hazel Sellers also purchased an original water color of Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, also a Rotarian, which was painted by Dana Daydodge of Haines City.
RNDC also offered three wine-filled baskets for the silent auction in addition to works from each of the featured artists. They were acquired by purchasing tickets which were deposited in containers at each artwork from which the winning ticket was drawn.
Music for the evening was presented by Dave and Dave, a light jazz duo comprised of David Prince and Dave Smith. The floral arrangements gracing the dozens of tables at the civic center were prepared by Bartow Flowers and Gifts. They also were given to lucky ticket holders.
The Rotarian who sold the most tickets for the event was W.H. “Bill” Stewart who sold 67 tickets, said Martin. He added that all told, 260 tickets were sold with about 200 attendees at the event.
Martin said he suggested the unusual event to his fellow Rotarians, stressing the celebration of local artists and Fresh From Florida foods.
“It turned out to be a great event,” Martin said. “I feel sure it’s something we will want to do every year. And, it was fun for everyone.”