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Rotary wine event draws hundreds

— An estimated 500 people sipped wine, nibbled on cheese and hors d’oeuvres and bid on a variety of donated items during the 15th annual Okanogan-Omak Rotary Club Wine and Cheese Tasting Event on Saturday.

The event filled the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex, 175 Rodeo Trail Road. The building was lined with lighted wine glass decorations, and additional lights twinkled on tables.

Many event-goers dressed in their finest party clothes.

Event organizers haven’t yet tallied the event’s proceeds, since not all bills are in, President-elect Dena Byl said. She said attendance seemed to be higher than last year.

The event usually brings in around $30,000, which goes back into the community, event chairwoman Debi Clark said.

“We’re really happy with this year’s wine and cheese event,” Byl said.

Event-goers sampled 53 wines, three hard ciders, eight types of spirits and three beers. Soft cider and coffee also were available.

Several tables were laden with cheeses, salmon and other food. Omak High School family and consumer education students assisted with food preparation and serving, and received a donation for their efforts.

Three silent auctions, with varying bid closing times, were offered.

One live auction featured a table full of gourmet desserts. Highlights included a chocolate-Kahlua trifle made by Mary Womack and several Rotary-themed cakes made by the Breadline Cafe, Omak, Byl said.

An open auction drew spirited bidding, with some people getting bargains, others paying market price and still others spending far more than the items’ value.

“We had some very cool and diverse auction items,” Byl said.

Auction items ranged from a bone-in smoked ham, protein shakes and auto dent repair to a week-long stay in Costa Rica, 25 pounds of frozen crab and a utility tractor rental.

The Costa Rica trip sold for around $700.

“The community has been awesome in donating,” Clark said.

The event is the club’s main fundraiser.

The club supports a variety of community projects, including $6,000 each to Omak and Okanogan high school graduation senior scholarships, support of an exchange student, casino events for both schools’ post-graduation parties, St. Nicholas Christmas Basket and children’s fishing derby.

A recent donation was a $21,000 stage for the fairgrounds.

Rotarians also sold balloons for the organization’s worldwide anti-polio effort. Last year the group sent more than $2,000 to Rotary International’s polio program.

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