This year, guests could vote for their favorite vendors, using their phones. Taking top honors was the Southwest Memorial Hospital food and nutrition crew, which served crayfish bisque. The Montezuma-Cortez High School’s culinary class, a newcomer to the event, came in second, followed by Main Street Brewery.
An estimated 350 to 400 people attended the 17th annual Taste of the Seasons, sampling food and drinks from 25 vendors.
M-CHS instructor Kanto McPherson’s Advanced Catering II students, known as the Panther Chefs, provided an array of appetizers. The hands-on learning experience was intended to give students skills such as event and menu planning, unit price shopping, culinary skills, food presentation, food safe handling, kitchen sanitation, accounting and customer service. The students helped prepare appetizers in the commercial kitchen built into the classroom at M-CHS, and about half of them took part in the event.
Other new vendors included recent startup restaurants on Main Street, Moose & More and La Gina’s Place. La Gina’s co-owner Steven Harvey and chef Marc Darrow announced that a portion of their sales from December would go toward a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Festivities also included a silent auction and a send-off for the retiring Bruce Johnson, who has been the community engagement coordinator for Montezuma and Dolores counties. Alex Prime was introduced as his replacement.
“I was especially delighted with the involvement of Four Corners Community Bank, KRTZ/KISS, KSJD, and West Slope Liquors again this year,” said Gail Vanik, owner of the Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery and coordinator of Taste of the Seasons. “They all do such a huge job in helping us to pull this together, and Kelly Turner from KRTZ was gracious and hosted as emcee.”
Guy Drew Vineyards also furnished a bottle of wine for each attendee to take home for the past two years, sponsored by Wolcott Insurance, Keesee Motors, Mondo Title, and Restaurant Row.
“They say ‘It takes a village,’ and this is one night when the entire community – restaurants, silent auction donors, vendors, and community businesses and organizations – all truly come together to support the children-oriented programs that the United Way of Southwest Colorado funds,” said Vanik. “It was a special evening full of wine and food tasting, fun and for a great cause in our local community.”
Over its lifetime, the event has raised about $200,000, which the Montezuma County chapter of United Way distributes to regional agencies. A tally of this year’s donations is expected in about two weeks, said Vanik.
This year’s beneficiaries include the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross, Axis Health System, Community Connections, Dolores County Senior Center, Dove’s Nest Early Care and Education Center, Four Corners Child Advocacy Center, Girl Scouts of Colorado, Housing Solutions for the Southwest, Medicine Horse Center, Montezuma County Health Department, Montezuma Emergency Assistance Coalition, Renew, Montezuma County Senior Center, Southwest Open School Health Clinic, The Bridge Emergency Shelter, The Piñon Project Family Resource Center, and Volunteers of America.