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Eat, drink and be artistic

NEW RICHMOND - One of New Richmond's most popular annual community fundraisers is fast approaching.

The seventh annual Art & Culinary Show, sponsored by the Rotary Club of New Richmond, is slated for Sunday, April 22, from 5 to 8 p.m. at R&D Banquet Hall in rural New Richmond, 1490 131st St.

Many of the popular features of the first six shows will return this year. This year's theme is "Spring."

There will be plenty of gourmet food served, along with wine and spirit tasting. Local chefs will be on hand for food preparation demonstrations, and live music will be provided throughout the event.

Several live and silent auctions, along with door prizes of artwork, will be conducted during the Art & Culinary Show.

"It's just a quality event all around," said Randy Calleja, honorary culinary co-chairperson for the event. "It's a fun evening and it's also for a good cause."

The Rotary Club raised more than $11,000 during the Art & Culinary Show last year. Money raised benefits the STRIVE scholarship program and the Rotary youth exchange program, as well as other Rotary-sponsored programs in the community.

The STRIVE program provides scholarships to New Richmond High School students who commit to improving their grade point average during their senior year. Students also attend monthly enrichment meetings and volunteer for community service projects and events in order to qualify for funds.

"It gives kids a second chance," Calleja said.

The event highlights area culinary artists, chefs, artists and entertainers that fill the attendees' senses (and bellies). Nine culinary exhibitors, seven spirits and refreshment vendors, and 16 artists have signed up to be a part of this year's event.

"For artists, I think, it's a challenge to get their name out there in the community," said Courtney Moe, honorary art co-chairperson for the Art & Culinary Show. "This provides them with a way to promote themselves, and to develop a following in the area."

The artist participants always enjoy getting to know other artists in the area, Moe said, and they enjoy the entire atmosphere of the evening. Many of the artists demonstrate their skills throughout the evening show.

It's much the same for the culinary artists, who volunteer their time and food samples for the show. Throughout the evening, a total of 12 gourmet food items are served at various times. Everything from appetizers to desserts are on the menu.

"For us, it kind of gives us a chance to have people do some taste testing," said Calleja, owner of Ready Randy's. "The last two years we tried something new out, and the response has been so good that they ended up on our menu."

Calleja said the fast-paced show also is fun because chefs and restaurant staff from around the region get together for a night and work together. A roaming, live video camera offers a behind-the-scenes look at what's happening in the kitchen.

"We have people working together and having a good time," he said. "And we're even learning from each other. It's not often you have competitors working together for a great cause."

Among the artists who have committed to this year's show are many previous participants and a few new ones. They include: Connie Burch, Marsie Danielson, Bill Driscoll, Sarah Dudgeon, Karla Faith, Michael Farrell, Bridget Foust, David Ralph Johnson, Carol Jones, Lori Klinger, Judy Markgren, Paul Oman, Judy Paulson, Nate Peterson, Signe Shores and Rhonda Zontelli.

Culinary exhibitors include Brady's Brewhouse, Champs Sports Bar & Grill, Family Fresh Market, The Laurel Supper Club, Parkside Restaurant & Bar, Ready Randy's, Table 65, Urban Olive and Vine and Old Heritage Foods BBQ & Catering.

Participants providing spirits will be 45th Parallel, Brady's Brewhouse, Family Fresh Market, Jet's Coffee Bistro, Cedar Lake Reflections, All State Liquor and Wine and Finnegan's Brewery.

Tickets for the St. Croix Art & Culinary Show are just $40 in advance or $45 at the door. Tickets are available at The Deerfield, The SPACE, Ready Randy's or online at

Jeff Holmquist is the Managing Editor for the New Richmond News.