Sunday, March 25, 2012

Food, Wine & Fun - Charity begins at Home!

Because you can’t be in two places at once, while I was back in Canada visiting recently I missed, what by all reports, was a highlight event of the season, the first annual Loreto Bay Food & Wine Festival.  With input and co-operation from some of the organizers including Janice, Joani, & Rodolfo and great pictures from Al Graichen, I have done my best to piece together the following piece “in absentia”, but I promise that I will be in attendance for next year´s event which is already in the planning phase.

On Saturday morning the west side of the  main Paseo was closed and volunteers were kept busy setting up food stations for the eleven participating Restaurants, most of them from the town but also including ones from here in Loreto Bay and also the surrounding area.  A large stage was set up across the north end of the street with an open area for dancing and several hundred chairs with tables filled the remainder of the street for several blocks.

In the morning Vive Loreto was offering tours to the San Javier Mission and Coronado Island, and although the day started out quite windy, these tours were popular.  The official program began at 3:30 pm with opening remarks by a representative of the Mayor of Loreto, the Festival Committee and the HOA Administrator.  Over 350 wristband passes had been sold at $400 pesos ($30 USD) and included access to all of the food booths for generous “taster” samples of house specialties as well as a commemorative tote bag, T-shirt and logoed wine glass souvenirs and coupons from participating restaurants.  In addition, there were almost 100 passes sold for the entertainment without access to the food.

The exclusive wine supplier for this year’s Festival was LA Ceto and they sold wine by the glass and bottle, and Pacifico supplied beer for sale as well.  One of the other events was the selection of a signature cocktail for Loreto Bay, and taste samples were given out of a variety of concoctions and people voted for their favorite.  The winning drink was the “Loreto Bay Cooler” a combination of Tequilla, Lime and Beer entered by Ulises, proprietor of the Fresh Market, demonstrating his talents for more than just the fruit and vegetable food groups!  During the event there was also a busy silent auction with many tempting donations that attracted generous bids, all of which went toward the fundraising goal.

 Following the opening ceremonies Baja Sounds, a 12 piece Cuban Salsa Band from La Paz got the crowd on its feet and dancing which carried on for the rest of the evening. When they took a break, Loreto Bay’s own Los Beach Dogs provided a very popular set with a few of the salsa musicians sitting in before the big band returned to play well into the night and keep the dancing going!

Before the main food tasting began there was a special “appetizer” offered.  A local school teacher, Justino Arce is duly famous for his Tatemada Clams made with the local “Chocolata” species.  He has a side-line making theses local delicacies  for parties and other special events – including preparing clams for President Bush Sr. and he has travelled to Mexico City several times to prepare this specialty for several Mexican Presidents! An auspicious beginning for the gourmet treats to come!

 When the rest of the food booths were opened a long line quickly formed.  Although there was plenty of food available to go around, grouping all the booths together lead to a sort of “cafeteria” model with one long line up while people filed past each booth in turn getting their samples.  One of the changes planned for next year will be to separate the food booths and distribute them throughout the dining area of the Festival so that the Guests can choose which of the restaurants they want to sample and in which order so everyone will not be forced to visit the booths in the same order. 

On the Sunday there was a well attended Golf Tournament associated with the Festival, casual and fun in spirit, a good time was had by all, including “duffers” and the day was capped off by a steak BBQ hosted by the Inn at Loreto Bay, with half of the proceeds from the tournament going towards the fundraising goal.

Speaking of fundraising, that was as successful as the whole event had been – with over $10,000 USD raised from the many sources and the once optimistic goal of purchasing a new 12 lead EKG for the Loreto Hospital was accomplished, along with sufficient funds available for the necessary training of the staff to use it.  In addition, contributions were also made to the Loreto Optimists Club, La Mission Loreto, and a local children’s baseball league.

In light of the level of success achieved, with a very short planning phase, and the efforts of over 30 Homeowner volunteers along with contributions of materials and labor from a number of local businesses and the staff of our HOA, plans are already underway for the second annual event!  Next year the dates will be March 22 – 24 and the organizers are already planning on setting up a non-profit Foundation to provide full financial transparency and also permit them to give “facturas” or receipts for tax purposes to businesses making contributions.

One of the most significant developments in our community this winter has been the continued development of a strong volunteer/charitable culture among Homeowners.  There have been organized efforts benefiting the Internado (residence) School in town as well as Anamalandia spay and neuter clinics and this contribution of state of the art diagnosis equipment to the local Hospital is yet another example of how Loreto Bay is working to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Loreto area.  This seems only fitting after all, because of the way that this place has improved the quality of life for so many of us who are making a new home here.

Having a party for almost 500 people, sharing the best of what the local restaurants have to offer, enjoying live music and dancing under the stars in the center of our growing community – at the same time as we raise thousands of dollars for important medical equipment that will improve health care for the extended community – it doesn’t get much better than this when you are “Living Loreto”!

If you want more information on next year´s event follow this website: