Chamber of Commerce's third annual wine gala a crowd pleaser (VIDEO)

Wine Gala 2012

Chef Joe Sanchez of the Wild Olive prepares sautéed shrimp served over smoked gouda cheese grits, a menu selection that proved one of the Wine Gala's most popular.

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM.

CRESTVIEW — Sultry jazz music, the aroma of gourmet foods cooking and the pop of wine bottle corks filled the air at Sunshine Aero Test Flight’s hangar at Bob Sikes Crestview Airport Saturday night. More than 200 attendees mingled around tables featuring cuisine from multiple area eateries, wines from around the world, and a variety of goodies up for silent auction.

Laurel Hill resident Edna Gella gazed around the cavernous hangar. Aircraft were festively decorated in white lights, a breeze wafted through the massive doors, and the choice of menu selections was overwhelming.

“I thought $35 was a lot to pay, but when I got here, there was a good band and so much food,” she said. “I am enjoying meeting new people, too.”

Gella’s son Dennis Mitchell, the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s president-elect, said one thing attendees found most appealing was the event’s unusual location.

“I would ask people, ‘Have you ever been to a wine gala in an airplane hangar before?’” Mitchell said. “When they say, ‘No,’ I tell them, ‘There’s a reason. This is the first one.’”

The first chamber-sponsored Wine Gala was set in a festively decorated tent in the chamber of commerce parking lot. Last year, the second annual gala was set in a bank lobby. Who knows where it will be in 2013, organizer Lynn Yort said, but a goal is to highlight member businesses.

Chamber President Karen Hardell drew applause when she evoked the memory of the late chamber President Foy Shaw, who was one of the body’s founders. Shaw was fond of promoting the chamber as well as its businesses in memorable ways, she said.



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