Wine & Dine for the Arts festival returns to Albany after three years

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The Wine & Dine for the Arts festival, a celebration of food and international beer, wine and spirits that benefits Albany arts organizations, will return in January to its full three-day format for the first time in three years, organizers announced Friday.

“The pandemic has wrought havoc upon the arts and the restaurant industry, many have closed or are still struggling to exist. We know that the Albany Food & Wine festival has become a critical way for us to highlight the amazing chefs, restaurants, bars and sommeliers, as well as provide sustainable funding to our award-winning local arts organizations,” said Marcus Pryor, board president for the event.

The gourmet celebration, held at the Albany Capital Center, will kick off Jan. 26 with the mayor’s reception, followed by grand tastings and slider slam competition on Jan. 27. The weekend-long festival will culminate on Jan. 28 with the grand gala, a five-course dinner reception curated by local signature chefs, paired with a silent auction and cocktail reception of premium wines and spirits.

Officially called Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival: Wine & Dine for the Arts, the nonprofit event has been held on a January weekend since 2010. It was established by Albany restaurateurs and others in the hospitality industry as a way to raise funds for arts organizations that lost money after the Albany City Arts Grants were abolished for budget reasons.

“This year, we’ve rebuilt our beneficiary selection process to promote equity and inclusion as well as to encourage new and emerging arts organizations,” Pryor said. The Albany Barn, Capital Repertory Theatre, Palace Theatre, Park Playhouse and Albany Center Gallery are this year’s premier beneficiaries, and spotlight beneficiaries include organizations small and large, from the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region to Black Dimension in Art.   

Tickets will go on sale on Nov. 21, starting at $75 for the mayor’s reception, $65 for the grand tastings, $50 for the slider slam and $175 for the gala dinner, where 100 percent of net proceeds go to funding for nonprofit arts groups in Albany. Those who purchase VIP packages for the event, which begin at $250, can then enter a raffle to win prizes, from hot air balloon rides over Napa Valley to tickets to the final four NCAA Championship games.

The event, which previously attracted about 3,000 people over three days each year, has raised a combined total of more than $1.2 million to benefit the arts nonprofits over its first 11 years before being drastically altered in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the festival was relegated to a Zoom cooking class series and this past April, organizers hosted the festival’s first in-person event in two years with a gala at the Albany Capital Center. Together, the two events raised $55,000 in funding, according to Pryor.

Eligible arts organizations are encouraged to apply for funding via the event’s website, as well as participate in this year’s new bottle design competition in which the winning artist will be awarded $1,000. The winning design will be selected by the public and displayed throughout the festival, inspiring the event’s theme.

“The arts are the fabric that bind our community together,” said Pryor. “Our arts community would not be as strong were it not for this amazing event that we are back to hosting every year.”

More information regarding the return of the Wine & Dine for the Arts festival will be released in the coming weeks.

 

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