I’ve been a part of the Farm Fête Gala Committee for the past few months; planning, organizing and collecting auction items to raise money for the Great Lakes Children’s Museum in Traverse City. The fundraising event is held annually with a different theme to each Gala and this year, the local farm-to-table emphasis caught my eye. I was able to connect with the Museum and meet a new group of passionate individuals who support and make this incredible facility possible, all for the children of our community.
The day of the event, as everything came together, I was able to support the Museum in my own way by offering to be the Gala’s roaming photographer and capture the night, the setting, and the incredible people who made it all possible.
There were numerous silent auction packages, each carefully selected by the Gala planning committee and donated by generous members of the community. By numerous, I mean at least 5 long banquet tables piled high with anything from books and dresses for toddlers, to CSA shares, composting services and SUP paddle board rentals.
After mingling, with delicious Black Star Farms wines and hors d’oeuvres like fresh radishes stuffed with herbed cream cheese, the sold out gala of about 140 people made their way to the dinning room for dinner and live auctions. Guests were able to continue and monitor their must-have silent auction items in the other room, but as soon as dinner was served very few people chose to leave their seat.
The evening’s menu was developed by Chefs Jonathan Dayton and Stephanie Wiitala with local and seasonal produce in mind. The chefs gather greens from farmers in the area like Nic Welty, owner of 9 bean rows, whose produce storage facilities are housed right onsite at Black Star Farms. The Inn, which regularly serves an incredible morning breakfast, can also pick farm fresh eggs from the Black Star Farms’ chickens just outside in the barns.
As a gal who regularly eats with my eyes before taking my first bite I snapped a picture of the delectable fare served throughout the course of the evening, so “dig in” as you scroll thru!
Roasted beet and pear salad, candied marcona almonds, goat cheese, spring greens, verjus vinaigrette
Vegetarian entrée: Grilled potato and Autumn vegetable napolean , tomato confit, parsley oil
Coffee and red wine braised beef short ribs, fromage blanc baked polenta, wilted arugula, crisp leeks
Warm Apple Pie tart, Vanilla Bean whippecrème, Riesling caramel and spun sugar
As the courses kept coming, Executive Director, John Noonan and Board President, Ellen Fred stepped up to the podium to address the Gala attendees. Ellen began the live bidding for the night by raising funds for the +Plus Membership that I spoke of in my previous post. Bidding began with the announcement that a $3,000 match was pledged by many of the generous former board members of the museum before the Gala began that night. As I mentioned before, the +Plus Membership ranked high in importance for me that night and I, along with many others, was incredibly awestruck and encouraged when nearly $4,000 was raised immediately for the Membership Program in addition to the match of $3,000. Ultimately, over $6,900 was raised for Museum scholarships to those of our community in need.
At the end of the night, after a series of incredible Live Auction packages were auctioned off and the numerous silent auction items were given to the highest bidder, the Gala raised over $35,000 for the Great Lakes Children’s Museum!
The event was fantastic; both successful in raising funds for the Museum and in gathering passionate, generous members of the community around the table to share a delicious farm fresh meal. I spent the night savoring the flavors of the feast made by the talented staff at Black Star Farms and roaming around with my camera in hand snapping photos of the smiling faces all around me. You can check out the selection of photos from the night here, and for those who attended the event you may notice some familiar faces pictured in the upcoming issue of Bay LIFE North Magazine.