Taste of the Seasons fundraiser coming Thursday to Cortez area

Gala, auction benefit United Way

Panther Chefs from Montezuma-Cortez High School serve samples of what they learned in the classroom during the Taste of the Seasons in 2016. Enlargephoto

The Journal file

Panther Chefs from Montezuma-Cortez High School serve samples of what they learned in the classroom during the Taste of the Seasons in 2016.

United Way is preparing for its biggest local fundraiser of the year, with the help of Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery in Dolores.

The 2017 A Taste of the Seasons wine and food tasting gala will begin at 5 p.m., Nov. 30, at the greenhouse. So far, about 15 local restaurants, breweries and chefs have signed up to provide food and drinks, and numerous businesses have donated items for a silent auction.

Proceeds from the event will go to fund programs supported by United Way of Southwest Colorado.

This will be the 19th year Four Seasons has hosted the gala. Alex Prime, a community engagement coordinator for United Way, said the event has raised about $215,000 for her organization during the past 18 years. Last year’s gala alone raised more than $15,000.

United Way focuses on using the money to benefit children, Prime said, so much of it goes to support partner organizations like the Piñon Project, the Montelores Early Childhood Council and the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center. But some will also go toward programs that provide health care or other services to everyone in the community.

“We see it as, all our partners help provide a better environment for children and their families,” Prime said.

Some organizations that could benefit from the fundraiser for the first time this year include the Montezuma School to Farm Project, the School Community Youth Collaborative and Tri-County Headstart, which have become partners with United Way since last year’s Taste of the Seasons.

The menu for A Taste of the Seasons this year will also feature several newcomers, Four Seasons owner Gail Vanik said. A chef from Dunton Hot Springs Resort will serve food at the event for the first time, as will staff from Loungin’ Lizard in Cortez. The Montezuma-Cortez High School culinary arts class will return, after Vanik said its recipes were “a huge hit” last year. West Slope Liquors and Guy Drew Vineyards will provide about 150 different kinds of wine for the event. Ticket-buyers will receive a bottle of wine and a glass to take home.

Depending on the weather, Vanik said she usually sees between 300 and 450 people at the gala.

“(It’s) a great community event,” she said. “It gives us an opportunity to give back.”

About 25 volunteers from United Way’s partner organizations will set up and tear down at the greenhouse, Prime said.

Tickets cost $45 in advance and $50 at the door, and blocks of 10 or more tickets cost $40 each. The event is for ages 21 and up.