Gatherings: Calabash

Mitch Thompson looks over the gourd art at the 13th annual Calabash on Oct. 6 in Forestville, a fundraiser for the Food for Thought AIDS food bank. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

Mitch Thompson looks over the gourd art at the 13th annual Calabash on Oct. 6 in Forestville, a fundraiser for the Food for Thought AIDS food bank. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

The art was from gourds and the music, too, when one of the region’s most inventive and compassionate benefit festivals occupied the heart of Forestville on the afternoon of Oct. 6.

It was Calabash, the premier community event of Food for Thought, the Sonoma County AIDS food bank.

A record number — about 450 — of guests arrived at the nonprofit’s gourd-eous home and gardens to find fine wines being poured, delectable food being passed and adventurous music being played.

Up for grabs in the silent auction were 111 pieces of gourd art created by 85 artists.

Most of the performers in the event’s four bands played instruments created from gourds — including Stephen Kent, host of KPFA’s weekly “Music of the World” program an aficionado of the Australian didgeridoo.

Much of the food was donated, and it was prepared by Lynn McCarthy’s Cottonwood Catering.

(See more Calabash photos)

Proceeds from Calabash will help to sustain the 25-year-old Food for Thought mission to provide free, quality food to families who struggle with AIDS and HIV. Current clients number nearly 700.

Invited to address the gathering, volunteer Rod DeMartini said the organization has a nurturing and enlivening effect not only on the people it serves but on the folks, like himself, who come regularly to Forestville to help keep the food coming.