Community Stories

News and related articles from our community.

THE ART OF DESSERT

Gourmet cakes were the centerpiece of each dinner table, such as this tower of cupcakes baked by Occasional Cakes for "The Art of Dessert" fundraiser benefitting the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts education and outreach programs, in Santa Rosa on April 12, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Gourmet cakes were the centerpiece of each dinner table, such as this tower of cupcakes baked by Occasional Cakes for “The Art of Dessert” fundraiser benefitting the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts education and outreach programs, in Santa Rosa on April 12, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Dessert came first at a sparkling dinner and celebration of arts education and outreach at the Wells Fargo Center.

In truth, no one sliced into the magnificent, professionally baked and decorated cakes that adorned each table until after dinner. But the edible masterpieces were central to the April 12 Art of Dessert, a benefit for programs of the Wells Fargo Center that extend art enrichment to children and teachers.

The evening in the center’s main theater and lobby began with champagne, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction and music by Elsie Allen High’s jazz band.

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A panel of judges strolled from one dinner table to the next, eyeing and resisting a stolen taste of the centerpiece cakes donated by pastry chefs from throughout the North Bay.

The 300-plus guests savored a dinner complemented by fine wines, then bid for live-auction treasures such as an acoustic guitar signed by Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Richard Thompson. High bidders Daniel and Juneko Steele made it theirs for $15,500.

The auction and the following fund-a-need raising of paddles helped the evening to raise more than $300,000 for the Wells Fargo Center programs that do much to bring arts exposure and education to local children.

The hosts presented the 2014 Arts Benefactor of the Year honor to the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation. Then, at last, the guests had a go at those cakes.

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TEXAS HOLD ‘EM POKER CHALLENGE

Who do you suppose came out on top of the poker tournament that Santa Rosa police officers hosted at the Bennett Valley Golf Course’s Legends Sports Bar & Grill?

Hands down, the winners were the Special Olympics athletes eager for their chance to get outdoors and play.

Elk Grove Police Officer Dan Templeton, left, Brian Marvin of the SRJC Police Academy and Healdsburg contractor Dennis Thompson play a hand at the Inaugural Texas Hold 'Em Poker Challenge, which took place Sunday, April 6, at the Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Santa Rosa. (Charlie Gesell, for the Press Democrat)

Elk Grove Police Officer Dan Templeton, left, Brian Marvin of the SRJC Police Academy and Healdsburg contractor Dennis Thompson play a hand at the Inaugural Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Challenge, which took place Sunday, April 6, at the Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Santa Rosa. (Charlie Gesell, for the Press Democrat)

The inaugural Texas Hold ’em Poker Challenge April 6 raised more than $7,000 for Special Olympics Northern California.

Participants arrived at Legends to find poker tables set up and professional dealers with Blue Dog Events ready for action.

Each player’s $50 buy-in brought him or her $1,000 in chips. Other attractions included several tables covered by enticing silent auction items, a bar and free food donated by Johnny Garlic’s. Representatives of Special Olympics Northern California expressed the organization’s gratitude and mission. And a competitor told the poker players how she loves to compete in a number of athletic events.

Though this was the first local Texas Hold ’em Poker Challenge, the Santa Rosa Police Department is one of the Sonoma County law enforcement agencies long active in raising money to support Special Olympics, the joyous sports events tailored to people with intellectual disabilities.

Organizer Alan Rosenthal, a Santa Rosa officer, said he and his colleagues agreed the poker fundraiser was so much fun and so successful that they will seek to host it again.

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FOOLS’ NIGHT OUT

Recent recipients of the Marie Sparks Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award attend Fools' Night Out, honoring community volunteers by the Rotary Club of Healdsburg Sunrise at Shone Farm in Forestville on April 1, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Recent recipients of the Marie Sparks Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award attend Fools’ Night Out, honoring community volunteers by the Rotary Club of Healdsburg Sunrise at Shone Farm in Forestville on April 1, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

A black-tie Wine Country gala on a soggy Tuesday night? No evening other than April 1 would have worked for Fools’ Night Out, a celebration of volunteerism and of the birth — on April Fools Day 2009 — of Healdsburg’s morning Rotary Club.

The elegant dinner party at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm kicked off with a champagne reception and entertainment by young performers with the Windsor Bloco dance/music troupe.

The meal was an extraordinary creation of acclaimed chef Doug Keane, who lives in Healdsburg, and SRJC culinary students.

The program by the hosting, 5-yearold Healdsburg Rotary Club Sunrise honored the community service of its members, and also the contributions all recipients of the city of Healdsburg’s Marie Sparks Memorial Volunteer Award.

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A Rotarian of the Year award was presented to Will Seppi, general manager of Costeaux French Bakery and a tireless booster of community efforts throughout Sonoma County.

After dinner, comic Will Durst, the evening’s Master of the Court, hit the stage and cracked everybody up.

Proceeds of Fools’ Night Out will benefit the charitable work of Healdsburg’s morning Rotary club — chiefly, its scholarships for youth.

Club President Larry Orr said the celebration also advanced the group’s core objectives: “doing good and having fun.”

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