Big Red for the Arts

Whew. I think the staff has finally recovered from hosting last Thursday night’s event: Big Red for the Arts, our annual food/wine/spirits tasting to benefit United Arts. For the last couple of years, Big Red has served as the official kick-off of the United Arts Campaign.

Our biggest event of the year welcomed more than 300 guests to The Society Room in downtown Hartford to taste, try and test different dishes from the area’s best restaurants and more than 50 different spirits provided by Toast Wines by Taste in West Hartford Center. As you can probably tell from the pictures, the dress code is simple: the redder, the better!

Benziger Family Winery pours a glass of its signature Savignon Blanc.

The event is more than 10 years old, and every time-honored tradition could use a little facelift. This year, we added two new elements: a special VIP Pre-Party Premier Tasting and an on-site arts activity. For a little extra, local wine connoisseurs could join us an hour before the main event for an exclusive, high-end tasting of special wines. On-hand to greet the guests was Jerry Benziger of Benziger Family Winery, one of Sonoma’s most popular vineyards and a national leader in Biodynamic wine production. (Biodynamic is the new buzzword in sustainable winemaking—it’s a really cool concept that’s just started becoming popular. Check it out.) During the grand tasting, guests could chat with local artist Karen Israel and observe her expert technique as she created a one-of-a-kind painting inspired by Big Red during the event. Once it’s complete, we’ll post some pictures of the finished product.

Big Red was a huge success. The energy at the event was electric—it’s wonderful to see so many business and community leaders mingling with arts enthusiasts, supporters and professionals. I particularly love catching-up with my friends and colleagues and getting everyone excited about this year’s campaign. Now that Big Red is over, it’s time for the real work to begin.

Special kudos goes to Allison Young, our events manager, and the entire team for putting in a long day’s work to deliver a truly wonderful evening.

Governor, Cathy and Mayor at Big Red

Governor Malloy, CEO Cathy Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra pose at Big Red.

Sure, it’s about supporting and celebrating the arts, but I’m no idiot. It’s also great chance to try great food and dozens of different wines, beers and spirits from all around the world. At the end of the night, I noticed two new faces: a stylishly dressed young couple. Introducing myself (and complimenting the woman’s hot-pink pants), I asked what brought them to Big Red. Before her husband could even answer, the wife blurted out, “honestly, it’s all about the wine.” “And the arts,” he quickly added with a smile.

See? There’s something for everyone.

For more Big Red:

I would be remiss not to mention—and say a very special thank-you to—our friends at Hoffman Auto Group and First Niagara for sponsoring the event. We’re lucky to have such caring corporate partners who support the United Arts Campaign.

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