MONTROSE — Gary Bean, one of the founders of the Montrose Wine and Food Festival, doesn’t have specific figures yet on how much the fundraiser brought in, but he expects it to be a record year.
The benefit, which expanded to three days this year, added a festival element on Sunday with Burgers, Bubbles and Barbecue, held on closed-off Main Street with plenty of food, wine and beer and activities for the kids.
Since it began in 2004, the festival has raised more than $230,000. This year’s recipients are the Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club, Kid’s Aid backpack food program, and Voices for Children, a program of court appointed special advocates. By keeping the number of recipients small, the event can have more impact on the budget of just few agencies, Bean said.
Last year the benefit raised about $50,000.
For the first time this year, the main event, the Grand Tasting, was held on closed-off Main Street under white tents where guests sampled the offerings of local chefs and sommeliers. Rain threatened, but never materialized, and Bean said about 500 people attended.
“We had people here on vacation from Ohio and they said how much they enjoyed it,” he said. “They came back on Sunday and even delayed their plans for leaving. Those are the things that make you think it was a tremendous success.”
Sunday’s event, also held downtown, was “absolutely slammed,” Bean said. He said many of the participants in the Mission to Ride benefit bike race, also held on Sunday, came after the race.
The festival has offered food before, but this year the level of participation was higher, Bean said, and local chefs pushed to offer even better food.
“We had a higher number of restaurants and raise the level of what we offered,” he said.
Bean said he is pleased that both locals and visitors enjoyed the festival, which he said is the whole point.
“The idea is that you can make a weekend of it,” he said. “We wanted to show that we could create a reason for people to come here for an entire weekend and I think we accomplished that.”
Several other events helped the festival, including the opening of Farmers Market and the Black Canyon Ascent race on Saturday. He said the different events cross-promoted each other, which helped attendance.