More than 350 types of wine, live and silent auctions, a variety of food and the music of a skilled string quartet will make "an absolutely incredible upcoming evening" for those in the mood to support a good cause, said one official.
The 16th annual Grape Escapes: A Vine Affair fundraiser will put attendees in the right mood beginning at 6 p.m. March 2 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Fort Smith City Center, 700 Rogers Ave., and the 21-and-older gathering will be unforgettable, said Katie Raines, executive director for Bost Inc.
"The atmosphere is great, the wine and food are great, and I hope everyone meets new friends," Raines said. "But in the end, it's the impact that Grape Escapes has in our community. It becomes more important each day for our community to support the people Bost supports."
Set to raise money for Bost, Grape Escapes will feature more than 350 types of wine, as well as food and appetizers from numerous area restaurants and caterers and live and silent auctions, Raines said.
"We seem to get a little bit more support each year, and that's really exciting," she said.
Jeanne Hill, director of marketing and fundraising for Bost, agreed.
"We are excited that Legacy Grill is new to us, and there are three new wineries; we have more wineries than ever involved in Grape Escapes," she said.
Also new to Grape Escapes will be the sounds and sights of a string quartet, courtesy of the Fort Smith Symphony, Hill said.
"The string quartet will play some really great music for us," she said. "We heard from some people that it would be good to feature some other local talent, just to shake things up for fun."
The event's new website, www.grapeescapes.org, will be updated to feature a list of the Grape Escapes wine and auction items, Hill said.
"Arts at Bost, which is a new art program that we serve, will have an art show and art for sale at our event," she said. "They had an art show and sale in the spring, and they sold out there. They'll have paintings, which will be fun."
On the silent auction table will be gift cards and gift certificates from area restaurants, tickets for sporting events, shopping packages, framed art pieces, pottery and more, Hill said.
"With the live auction, there will be a Tequila tasting party and trips to Asheville, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Branson; and Oaklawn," she said. "John Mays Jewelers donated a pair of earrings and FFO Home is donating a shopping spree."
Last year's Grape Escapes event raised $110,000 for Bost, Hill said. Organizers are hoping to raise as much as $120,000 from the upcoming event, she said.
Hill also hopes community members both enjoy Grape Escapes and maintain focus on Bost's mission.
"All funds we raise in Fort Smith are used locally to provide services to the people we serve," Hill said.
Bost services include intermediate care facilities, behavioral health, personal care, early intervention and early childhood education, the Hand-in-Hand preschool center, the Alternative Community Services Waiver, the Adult Development Center and a work development program. The latter has clients receiving job-skills training in packing, assembly, sorting, quality control, prime manufacturing and other areas.
"Bost is so critically important, and we serve well over 1,000 people," Hill said. "With some of these people, we are empowering them to make choices, be more independent and live their fullest lives."
Tickets for Grape Escapes are $100 and can be purchased by calling (479) 652-4553, at www.grapescapes.org and at Sodie's Wine and Spirits, 5401 Phoenix Ave. Tickets also will be available at the door, Hill said.
"Each year, the Bost Foundation makes a donation back to Bost, and Grape Escapes is a big part of that," Raines said. "That money goes back to our programs that allows individuals to live more independently. There may be some areas that aren't funded, but we are able to reach out and do extra things because of that support."
According to Hill, Grape Escapes offers a one-of-a-kind experience for people.
"You get the opportunity to try so many different wines and food that you may not get the opportunity to try otherwise," she said. "It's a fun, cocktail-style party where you can meet up with friends, have drinks and fun and support a very, very good cause."