For more than a decade, the Pleasantville Rotary Club’s major fundraiser, the Westchester Wine Experience, was a big hit with area residents.
But as tastes change over time, the Rotary Club shifted some of the focus from wine to craft beer and spirits. Some of the event’s longtime patrons were taken by surprise by the rebranded Hudson Valley Fermented.
Now in its third year, Hudson Valley Fermented, which will be held again this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Pace University’s Kessel Student Center, has seemingly gained the traction that Rotary Club member and Event Chair Henry Leyva was hopeful it would.
“It was a big risk to change from an event that had been successful for so many years and turn it into something so different,” Leyva said. “So the first year was a challenge just because we sort of had to invent the wheel. That was my first year in Rotary so I was just learning everything about Rotary, in addition to this event.”
What hasn’t changed is the annual fundraiser’s mission. Each year, Pleasantville Rotary selects a few charities or nonprofit organizations, including a couple of local efforts, as beneficiaries to share the proceeds.
This year, the Pleasantville Fund for Learning and the Break the Hold Foundation, a suicide prevention organization started by Pleasantville residents Jolina and Brian Halloran, are the local recipients. The Team Fox for Parkinson’s Research has been named as the third organization to receive funds.
Leyva said last year about $30,000 was raised, nearly doubling the total of Hudson Valley Fermented’s initial effort. As of last week, organizers were on the brink of surpassing last year’s total, he said.
Leyva said the success of the event is because they bring together more than 20 purveyors of high-class wines, craft beer and spirits produced throughout the Hudson Valley and New York State that can be sampled. This year a better balance between the three types of beverages
Add in about a dozen local restaurants and food establishments also providing samples, coupled with live entertainment and a silent auction, it’s easy to understand why the public has quickly embraced the new concept.
“It’s taking the best of what the Hudson Valley has to offer,” Leyva said. “It’s a golden time for spirits and brewing in our area. There are so many unbelievably gifted distillers. The product they are putting out is world class.”
Patrons should also be aware that the price of a ticket allows all-you-can-consume food and drink samples, although the public, as always, should drink responsibly, Leyva said. There is no need to pay anything additional – unless a visitor cares to buy a case of a beverage that they sampled, he said.
Thierry Pradines, owner of Best Wine Purveyors, is the co-promoter of the event and will coordinate the order and deliveries of any products that are purchased, Leyva said.
There will also be three bands this year providing the entertainment and the silent auction will allow bidders to have a chance to obtain tickets to lower-level seats for Yankees games and concerts at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, which is partnering with the Rotary this year. There will also be tickets to a concert of the band Chicago.
Leyva said it’s an enjoyable afternoon for everyone involved.
“I wanted it to be so much fun that you forget you are at a fundraiser,” he said.
Tickets are $75 each and can be bought online at www.hvfermented.com or at the door on Saturday. There are still a limited number of VIP tickets for $95, which can also be purchased online. VIP ticket holders are admitted an hour before the general admission ticketholders at noon.
There will be a free shuttle bus from the Pace bus stop near the Pleasantville train station to the event on campus for anyone arriving by rail or village residents who don’t want to drive.