The Russ’s Wine and Food Experience, featuring more than 90 booths with a seemingly endless amount of wines and gourmet food pairings, marks its 11th year next month. The annual fundraiser for the Lincoln Community Playhouse is coming to the Embassy Suites Convention Center, 1040 P St., from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22.
Organizers hope to generate a net profit of $30,000 through the evening of fundraising, said Marty Jarvis, director of marketing for B&R Stores. The event draws between 600 and 700 supporters each year, and has attracted as many as 900.
“We’ve raised almost $400,000 in the 10 years of hosting the event,” said Jarvis.
In addition, members of the Playhouse Players will be at the event selling raffle tickets for an all-expenses-paid trip to California’s Napa Valley. The prize package includes airfare, hotel and a variety of wine tastings.
Three price levels
Three price levels are available for the Russ’s Wine and Food Experience:
• $50 is the price to be admitted to the Main Ballroom, where serving hours will be 5 to 8 p.m. More than 90 booths serving food and beverage samples will fill the Main Ballroom.
• $70 is the ticket price for the Reserve Room, which has a limited number of tickets (250) and offers heavy appetizers. The Reserve Room will be open from 4 to 8 p.m.
• $125 is the admission price for the Cellar Room, where you’ll find a dozen top-end wines and an expanded menu of appetizers and snacks. The Cellar Room is limited to the first 40 donors to respond. The Cellar Room will be open from 4 to 8 p.m.
For the Reserve Room and Main Ballroom, tickets at the door will cost an extra $10. There will be no at-the-door ticket sales for the Cellar Room, which usually sells out prior to the night of the event, said Jarvis.
Patrons who buy Reserve Room or Cellar Room tickets will have access to the Main Ballroom beginning at 4 p.m. along with the Reserve and Cellar Rooms.
The 11th year of the Russ’s Wine and Food Experience will feature the introduction of local beers, announced Rob Steider, spirits director for B&R Stores Inc.
“Beers have been added to the lineup to give the event a broader appeal,” Steider reported. “This year’s event will include the involvement of a few brewing companies. It should be a great night out, with the opportunity to explore different flavors.”
Patrons can order wines that they like at the event and pick them up the following week at one of the Russ’s Market stores, Steider added.
On the food side, Jarvis said the wide range of samples will include exotic fruits, an assortment of desserts and breads from Russ’s bakery, and a variety of meats including beef, pork and Smart chicken.
Entertainment will include music by a yet-to-be-named touring country artist, and a fun photo booth where patrons may be photographed in front of a collection of festive winery backgrounds.
How it began
Jarvis said the idea to create a night of fundraising became an extension of Russ’s Markets’ partnership with the Lincoln Community Playhouse.
“We’ve been a long-time sponsor of the Playhouse, so when we saw other retailers holding similar events in other communities, we decided to introduce this idea to Lincoln,” said Jarvis. In recent years, funds from the Wine and Food Experience have supported the popular Penguin Project at the Playhouse.
Early ticket purchases are advised. Advance tickets are available at all Russ’s Market stores, the Lincoln Community Playhouse and online at www.russmarket.com