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A fundraiser with taste

Kim Valentine of Olympia, Kathy Genson of Yelm and her sister Kari Stroud of Lacey, from left, share a laugh Saturday during the 2010 Capital Food and Wine Festival at Saint Martin's University in Lacey. The event benefits the university's scholarship program.
Kim Valentine of Olympia, Kathy Genson of Yelm and her sister Kari Stroud of Lacey, from left, share a laugh Saturday during the 2010 Capital Food and Wine Festival at Saint Martin's University in Lacey. The event benefits the university's scholarship program. The Olympian

LACEY - Wine lovers lined up early and often at Saturday's 2010 Capital Food and Wine Festival, a South Sound event in its 21st year that typically raises $50,000 to $75,000 for scholarship funds at Saint Martin's University.

By 3 p.m., nearly 1,400 people had passed through the doors of the Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion, and organizers expected as many as 5,000 by 9 p.m.

On display were wares from 43 statewide wineries, 14 breweries and 18 restaurants, mostly from South Sound. The scholarship funds are raised from ticket sales and sponsors, and the restaurants pay a booth fee, event co-chairwomen Randi Johnson and Sandra Quebedeaux said Saturday. The event is organized by the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association.

Wine agent Mike Libbee said it was his fifth year attending the festival, which is a chance for him to market and gain exposure for three wineries he represents in the Yakima Valley: Masset Winery, Windy Point Vineyards and Eaton Hill. Libbee said he brought about 30 cases of wine for the event, and that each winery he represents produces 1,400 to 2,600 barrels a year.

“It generates some revenue for the wineries, but it’s more about exposure to 5,000 wine drinkers,” he said about Saturday’s event. The rest of the year, he markets the wineries in Seattle, Libbee said.

Attendees paid $14 for either a wine or a beer glass, then bought “scrip” at 50 cents a pop. That scrip was then used to purchase a taste of wine, beer and food, Johnson said.

Although organizers said they see familiar faces every year, Kathy Ries and Mary Neville, two longtime Olympia residents, said they were attending for the first time because in past years they had been “snowbirds,” retirees who live in a warmer climate during the colder months. But not this year, they said. Ries and Neville said they were looking to enjoy a glass of chardonnay.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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