Kutztown Rotary’s Taste of Kutztown sets record for attendance

Those who were looking for something sweeter tried a sip of Subarashii Kudamono dessert wine made from Asian pears.
Those who were looking for something sweeter tried a sip of Subarashii Kudamono dessert wine made from Asian pears. Submitted photo - Reno Unger
Gabi Pensyl, of New Ringgold, applies a henna tattoo to Mati Van Buren, from Kempton.  Mati will get to enjoy the result for about a week before it washes and wears off.
Gabi Pensyl, of New Ringgold, applies a henna tattoo to Mati Van Buren, from Kempton. Mati will get to enjoy the result for about a week before it washes and wears off. Submitted photo - Reno Unger

A perfect day and growing word-of-mouth added up to a 20 to 25 percent increase in attendance at Kutztown Rotary’s Taste of Kutztown wine, beer and food festival in the park June 10.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome of our efforts,” said Rotarian Jim Springer, chairman of the event. “The park provided tall trees and lots of shade, the crowd was full and cheerful, but not congested and everyone seemed to have a really good afternoon.”

Ticket sales through a number of different outlets were a little complex this year, so final figures are not in, according to Springer. He goes on to say, however, that there was a 20 to 25 percent growth in attendance.

“I think the word is getting around”, he said. “We did a lot of promotion, but it’s people telling their friends how fun it was that makes us grow.”

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Sommelier Marc Supsic offered a seminar to VIP attendees on wine and food pairings, but most of the activities of the day centered around the food, the wine and the beer. Only local wineries, breweries, food vendors and artisans were invited to participate in the event so that attendees could get a literal taste of what was available to them in their own neighborhood.

Income from the Taste of Kutztown will be added to other fundraising events for the year and will be quickly distributed to Rotary’s local and international charitable contributions. Through cash donations and a large amount of sweat equity, Kutztown Rotary has been able to make a large impact on such efforts as the Allentown Rescue Mission, the Opportunity House in Reading, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Brandywine Community Task Force, Kutztown Strong and college scholarships for area high school students.

On a larger scale, Rotary has been a major contributor of both financial support and person power in making the Potato Project go. The project has become so successful that it is able to supply more than enough potatoes as well as sweet corn and green beans to virtually all of Berks County’s food bank efforts. Many of the heavy machines, such as corn combines, potato harvesters and tractors were financed by Rotary’s fund-raisers like Taste of Kutztown. When planting or digging time comes, Rotary clubs from all over the district join many churches and other organizations to get it done.

Kutztown Rotary also contributes financial support and volunteers for international efforts of the organization. Last year past president Pete Miller and president-elect Amy Sheller traveled to India to work with Rotarians from several other countries on an irrigation project and the campaign to stamp out polio in our lifetimes.

The hat has been passed in several meetings after tragedies such as hurricanes or earthquakes to provide Rotary shelter boxes. Victims are gives a family-sized tent, cooking utensils and enough necessities to survive until a more comprehensive rescue effort can be mounted.

“I really need to give a shout-out to the Rotarians and the large numbers of area residents it takes to pull something like this off,” said Springer, “Without a wide diversity of volunteers, this just wouldn’t have been as nice an experience as it turned out to be. Organizing something like this is a little like trying to heard cats,” he went on, “but then again, I like cats.”