Some nights, Durango is just hopping, and that was certainly the case Oct. 11.
At the Powerhouse Science Center, more than 220 guests showed up at Bread for Manna, a fund-raiser for Manna Soup Kitchen. Executive Director Kathy Tonnessen said 119 local businesses supported the event, which raised more than $30,000, about twice as much as any previous event.
Manna's main job is feeding people suffering food insecurity, but at this event, they fed their guests an international feast, courtesy of most of the restaurants in town – chicken curry, dumplings, ribs, meatballs, shrimp, deviled eggs, sushi – and that's just a sample. Miniature eclairs, brownies and several other goodies hit the sweet spot.
The new Culinary Arts Program collaboration between Manna and Southwest Colorado Community College has its first 16-week course underway. Eight students, four of them Manna clients, are on the class' shake-down cruise, so to speak.
They showed some of what they are learning under the direction of Training and Resource Center manager and chef Joseph Prekup and chief instructor Dave Thierback. The aspiring chefs prepared salmon cakes with crème fraîche, beef kebabs with peppers and onions and chicken satay, which received rave reviews.
A Manna client, Rebecca, shared her tale of how Manna helped her, not only saving her from hunger, but helping her rebuild her life. She tugged at both heartstrings and wallets.
The silent auction featured a lot of themed baskets and some pretty cool sports memorabilia (and since I'm not much into sports, that's saying something.) Let's see, there was a Peyton Manning signed football – even more valuable with his new record throwing for touchdowns – a John Elway-signed display, and get this, a Jack Dempsey-signed display. Osprey backpacks, travel, dining, chocolate, health and fitness, you name it, there was something for everyone.
The same was true for the live auction items, a stay in Hawaii, a kid's package complete with a trip on a fire engine courtesy of the Durango Fire Protection District and other goodies.
Black Velvet provided the soundtrack for the buzzing crowd.
Kudos to organizing committee Janine Bulen, Laura Bohachevsky, Marianne Hoover, Prekup, Tonnessen and Shanna Roloff.
Manna continues to be on track for serving 70,000 meals this year, and it's expanding its Packs of Love program to send food home with Durango School District 9-R students who otherwise are likely to go hungry over the weekend. That's going to be about 1,000 backpacks a month.
If you weren't able to attend but want to assist Manna to meet its mission that “In a community of plenty, no one should go hungry,” mail your donation to P.O. Box 1196, Durango, CO 81302.
Enjoying the last of the fall colors for their birthdays are Diego Max Bonilla, Scott Holland, Trish Sohle, Larry Brown, Kevin Heckman, Austin Volz (wherever in the world he is), Debbie Williams, Linda Geer, Rege Leach and Marie Davidson.
After fueling up at the Manna event, a portion of the crowd joined me in the twofer evening at the Sullivan family concert to raise scholarship money for music students at the Stillwater Foundation. The Henry Strater Theatre was filled to overflowing for “Rhyme, Women and Song.”
Three generations of Sullivans, hailing from New York City, Oklahoma and Durango, took the stage, presenting musical styles as diverse as classical and country, cabaret and contemporary. (I can never resist an opportunity for alliteration.)
Locals are already big fans of Durango resident Tim Sullivan, and those who didn't already know he came from a prodigiously musical family certainly do now. Mom Elizabeth Sullivan, who is creeping up on 85 but you'd never know it, began songwriting as soon as she sent her youngest of eight children off to school.
“The music just poured out of her,” daughter KT Sullivan said. She's number three in birth order and one of five professional musicians among the progeny. (I'm breaking Associated Press-style here, moving to first names, because otherwise it's just too ponderous.) KT – who has performed in a number of Broadway shows and is a popular cabaret singer in the Big Apple – headlined a show that also included her sister-in-law Robin Brooks Sullivan and Robin's son, pianist Montana Sullivan.
Tim made a point of telling the Stillwater students in the audience not to let Montana's very impressive playing discourage them from pursuing their musical studies. Most of us don't come from musical families on both sides of our genetic code and exposure from the cradle, after all.
I have written about the Sullivans throughout my almost 15 years with Neighbors. They performed at a fund-raiser to help the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango buy its new church, and KT was a smashing headliner at a Music in the Mountains kick-off fundraiser several years ago at the home of Bob Lieb.
If anything, KT's voice has become richer and more nuanced. Elizabeth's voice is as pure and strong as ever, and it turns out Robin was idolized by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth when they were in college for good reason. My jealousy knows no bounds.
And KT's commitment to preserving and promoting songs with lyrics and or music written by women adds a passion to her performance. Her finale, “Twenty-nine Songs by Women in Eight Minutes” was both a hoot and an impressive reminder that even though “The Party's Over,” women have, indeed, made their mark on our musical heritage.
Thanks for a wonderful evening of music to all the Sullivans.
This Saturday is going to be hopping, too. The Durango Lions Club is holding its 10th annual Chili and Craft Fair in the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. The Craft Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the chili will be dished up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. – with all the fixin's. Tickets are $6.
The recipe is classified, but this is really good chili. I'm scheduled to attend both a luncheon and a gala dinner Saturday, but I'll be stopping off in-between with my Tupperware container, so I don't miss it.
The Lions are raising money to buy a new vision-screening camera. They screen preschoolers all over La Plata County, and about 10 percent have some kind of vision defect. The sooner it's caught, the sooner it won't interfere with their learning or quality of life.
Speaking as someone who was diagnosed with amblyopia (the dreaded lazy eye) at age 3, I can tell you that getting me quickly into glasses improved both my depth perception and my ability to see the blackboard once I started kindergarten at 4.
Bring your used eyeglasses to recycle, too. We can make the whole world look better for a lot of people.
Enjoying some great chili while you're out and about Saturday is certainly an easy way to support their efforts.
The air is brisk, and the cider's fresh-pressed for the anniversary of Lee and Sandy Campbell.