GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - When it comes to food, chef Donny Fin knows how to entertain and educate.To prove it, the owner of Fin's Grille & Raw Bar is hosting a cooking demonstration Saturday at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts' 13th annual Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest. Joining him is colleague Tom Boas, a regular fixture at the contemporary restaurant and oyster bar in downtown Glenwood Springs."We're not letting Tom bring his peanut butter," joked Fin, referring to past Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfests when Boas brought along his favorite sandwich spread. "Saturday, we'll be making corn boats, a vegetarian dish that involves a nice presentation. Corn boats are good for the holidays and very versatile. It's not a technical dish, and it's one anyone can do in their kitchen, especially during the holidays," Fin said.The cooking demo is just one feature of the always-popular Center for the Arts event, the arts organization's largest fundraiser of the year."We really need it this year. Everything has really gone up," said executive director Gayle Mortell. "This is the event what will get us through the winter."In its 13th year, the event supports necessary upgrades to the Center for the Arts building, now 109 years old, Mortell said. The Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest also allows for the Center for the Arts to provide public mural projects seen around Glenwood Springs on bridges and utility boxes, art outreach in local schools, and scholarships for students."So far this year, we've given out 56 scholarships," Mortell said. "I think the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts has really changed the landscape of art around town."Mortell said Saturday's Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest will include a slide show and video showcasing the Center for the Arts' work."We are really showing people more of what we do this year," she said.Wines, microbrews, and delectable cuisine from local eateries highlight the annual fundraiser, this year taking place at the newly renovated Ramada Inn. The new venue allows supporters of the Center for the Arts to pre-bid on the more than 175 silent auction items from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today."Patrons can put a healthy silent auction bid amount in our 'Gotta have it now' auction envelopes and potentially win the item if their bid is higher than that on the bid sheet at the end of the event," said Christina Brusig, assistant director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. "The festival moved to the Ramada Inn because of how large the event has become over the years. It is now the focus of the event to offer patrons the pleasure of having all vendors in one room, enjoying live music by Brad Vierheller from the Glenwood Springs Vaudeville Review, with expanded seating and a very large silent auction filled to the brim with offerings that you can't find anywhere else," Brusig said.Also new this year, patrons can purchase wine and champagne grab bags at $20 each. The fundraising could make for a nice surprise, since bottles in the concealed bags include labels of up to $100 in value.Fin said he enjoys returning to the event year after year for the enthusiastic foodie community in the valley. The Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest has become such a tradition for Fin's that the restaurant also hosts the annual wine and cheese tasting after-party with live music once the event ends."It's just fun to get out and see everybody, and taste everybody's stuff," he said. "It's for a good cause, and I always try to be a part of the community. That's important, you know."Brusig said the Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest has much to offer in support of the Center for the Arts."This is more than a fundraiser," she said. "It's a time when our community can come together to celebrate cuisine from some of the valley's favorite restaurants, perfectly paired with your ability to taste over 100 wines, endless microbrews and to support the arts all at the same time."Tickets are available at the door, online at www.glenwoodarts.org or by calling 945-2414.
13th Culinary Arts Wine and Brewfest gets lucky with new venue
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