The Southern Delaware Wine, Food & Music Festival has come and gone for 2017, and it was a resounding success. Sure to be one of the most buzzed events for 2018, the SoDel Fest brings outstanding food, delicious wines and sprits, and entertaining music together for a blast of a day.
The Third Annual SoDel Fest was created and presented by Creative Coastal Connections Corp, a nonprofit event-planning company, and hosted by SoDel Concepts. The grounds and clubhouse at Schell Brothers Independence Hall were fully utilized, and space was not an issue.
New this year, on the eve of SoDel Fest was the VIP private reserve wine dinner with six courses and seven wines at Baywood Clubhouse. Larry O'Brien, one of only 230 Master Sommeliers in the world, educated and entertained the lucky patrons who attended this exclusive, perfectly paired wine dinner. Jackson Family Wines also brought ambassador Craig Elick, who shared his vast knowledge of the vines.
The vendor list for SoDel Fest included 10 wine distributors, two wineries, Dogfish Head brewery and distillery, and 17 top local restaurants all showcasing their culinary masterpieces. Attendees used their commemorative festival wine glasses to sample over 50 hand-picked wines, many of which were paired with the amazing chef-made tastes. Those who attended then had the opportunity to purchase their favorite wine products at discounted prices.
The most entertaining event of the SoDel Fest was the second annual Chef Throw Down competition, which pitted local Southern Delaware chef Doug Ruley against Northern Delaware chef Bryan Sikora. Using mystery ingredients, the chefs had 30 minutes to prepare a beautifully presented and tasty dish for the three judges. Doug Ruley, SoDel Concepts chef extraordinaire, emerged victorious for the second year in a row.
A total of $26,000 was raised and given to the designated beneficiaries of the SoDel Fest: Children & Families First, Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation and The Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
CHEF was the recipient of a check for $10,000 as co-beneficiary of this year's SoDel Fest wine, food and music festival. The funds will benefit CHEF's Teacher Excellence grants, which support K-12 educational programs in the Cape Henlopen School District and provide funding for performing arts, STEM-related programs (science/technology/engineering/math), and anti-bullying programs, according to board President Jeff Gordon.
Children & Families First offers immediate access to resources and supports that provide healing, hope and positive change for families and children working to overcome tremendous challenges, serving more than 40,000 individuals statewide each year. The $14,000 raised through this year's festival will impact the children and families served by directly supporting areas of greatest need across the continuum of services, such as foster care for vulnerable children, home-based therapy for teens and parents, a therapeutic foster home for children ages 12 to 17 years, parenting skills training, and nurse home visiting services for new moms.
The Delaware Restaurant Association ProStart Program is currently #FeedingDreams and #BuildingFutures for over 3,000 Delaware students in 18 high schools across the state. Beneficiary funds from the SoDel Fest and other community fundraisers help provide scholarships for the students, and allow the DRA Educational Foundation to host college and career fairs, leadership conferences, statewide competitions and professional development courses for ProStart educators.