Press Releases

Taste of Vail donates nearly $30K to local charities

CREATED: 2006-11-20 10:24 PM


Taste of Vail donates nearly $30K to local charities

VAIL, Colo. - Local kids are the greatest beneficiaries of funds generated this year by the nation's premier culinary and wine festival.

Organizers of Taste of Vail are proud to announce the recent distribution of $29,300 in proceeds from the 16th annual festival, in April, to a dozen local charities.

"I think this is fantastic," says Paul Ferzacca, owner and executive chef at Vail's La Tour restaurant, as well as a member of the festival's board of directors. "It's really nice to see this all come together, with one of the best events in the country giving money to programs that do a lot of good around here. That's what it's all about."

Ten thousand dollars went to the newly created Taste of Vail Educational Scholarship, a joint effort with Eagle County Schools and ProStart, a culinary and hospitality education program administered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Four Battle Mountain High School students who participated in the ProStart program this year - seniors Andy McNeill and Melissa Hines, and juniors Colby Lefebvre and Cam Lewis - received $2,000 each, to help pay for college tuition and expenses in their future culinary and hospitality studies. Another $2,000 is earmarked to help pay for expenses incurred by next year's ProStart program at Battle Mountain High School.

"I can't tell you how much we all appreciate what Taste of Vail has done for us," says Sharon Wible, who teaches the ProStart class at Battle Mountain High School. "The kids are so excited to receive these scholarships. They're extremely thankful, and so are their parents."

Taste of Vail also donated $10,000 to the Youth Foundation's Academic Soccer Club. The program - serving more than 350 students a week from Eagle County's four middle schools - provides literacy-based academic guidance, as well as participation in an organized soccer league for those identified as "at risk" when they are away from school.

"The biggest draw of all for kids here in the Vail Valley is soccer, but this program doesn't receive the funding a lot of others do," says Lee Jones, recreation director for the Youth Foundation, who administers the Academic Soccer Club. "Taste of Vail's donation will help with scholarships and allow us to broaden the net."

The balance of Taste of Vail's proceeds this year was distributed among the following local charitable programs (in alphabetical order):

• Border to Border USA, founded by local Joel Fritz in 2000 to raise funds for pediatric HIV/AIDS research through adventure bicycle rides.

• Cancer Caring House, which provides cancer patients and a family member or caregiver with safe, convenient and comfortable accommodations while undergoing treatment at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, in Edwards.

• Casino Night, an annual event held every spring at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa that benefits local early childhood programs throughout Eagle County, including Children's Garden of Learning, Family Learning Center, Mountain Tots, Pooh Corner, Prater Lane Play School, Vail Child Care and Nurturing with Nature.

• The Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound program at Minturn Middle School, which combines rigorous academic content and real world projects - or "learning expeditions" - with active teaching and community service.

• The Literacy Project, which provides free tutoring to local middle school students, as well as functionally illiterate adults.

• The Red Ribbon Project, which strives to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Eagle County, providing awareness, support, education at private and public schools and free HIV testing.

• Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation, which aims to address medical and education needs of children and families that are not currently being met by existing agencies and charitable organizations.

• Vail Mountain Rescue, a group of volunteers trained and prepared to respond to any type of backcountry emergency under the authority of the Eagle County Sheriff's Department.

• The Vail Jazz Foundation, dedicated to the perpetuation of jazz through the presentation of jazz performances and jazz education, with a special emphasis on young musicians and young audiences.

• Vail Valley Home Health Care & Mountain Hospice, offering high-quality, affordable clinical, spiritual and emotional support to recovering, disabled or terminally ill people in the familiar surroundings of their own home.

Taste of Vail itself is a nonprofit organization. The festival, now in its 17th year, has contributed more than $330,000 to Vail Valley Charities; and in 2005, in conjunction with Ritz-Carlton, the Taste of Vail donated $13,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund.

The Taste of Vail celebrates the Vail Valley's rich lifestyle - the fine dining, prestigious art galleries, shops and skiing that have made Vail a world-class, year-round resort. More than 5,000 attendees and volunteers participated in the four-day culinary extravaganza in April this year, with chefs from three dozen local restaurants and winemakers and/or owners of five dozen wineries from all over the world participating.

This year, according to the 2006 Luxury Brand Status Index survey of arts and entertainment events conducted by the New York-based Luxury Institute (, Taste of Vail is ranked in the top three events in the United States in terms of quality, along with the New York Philharmonic and the Chelsea Flower Show.

The 17th annual Taste of Vail is scheduled for April 11-15, 2007.

For more information about Taste of Vail, visit or call 970-926-5665.


Taste of Vail charities

• Border to Border USA - or 970-390-7884
• Cancer Caring House - or 970-569-7492
• Casino Night - 476-1281
• Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound at MMS - or 970-328-2920
• The Literacy Project -
• ProStart - or 970-328-2930
• Red Ribbon Project or 970-827-5900
• Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation - or 970-479-5700
• Vail Mountain Rescue - or 970-926-6770
• Vail Jazz Foundation - or 970-479-6146
• Vail Valley Home Health Care & Mountain Hospice - or 476-2451
• Youth Foundation - or 970-926-8905

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Media contact:
Stephen Lloyd Wood, media liaison
(970) 949-9774

Photos available upon request - SLW

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