The annual SWFL Food And Wine Fest took place at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers over the weekend and it was a jaw dropping success. Here is a look behind the scenes at a $2 million Southwest Florida charity event. The live auction grossed $2,006,500 and it was so much fun to watch. The online auction was still open through yesterday. I’ll be sure to update the totals. The generosity of those in attendance was humbling. What a great community we live in.

Since the festival’s inception in 2009, more than $27 million has been raised for the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. In addition, money raised also funds scholarships for local students majoring in health sciences at FGCU and FSW. The goal this year was to raise money to help build a pediatric outpatient surgery center.

Highlights of the SWFL Food And Wine Fest

First, there is a massive food and and wine tasting. Some of the best chef’s from Southwest Florida put on their coats and cooked delicious bites for us to try. In addition, winemakers, owners and representatives from all over the country were on hand sampling their best selections. Most were small production, hard to find wines.

Check out the food

Next, the doors open to the live auction and it gets rowdy after all of that wine. Just in case someone didn’t get enough, the tables are loaded with a great selection of wines and different vintages for people to try. There is more food too. In addition, there were lots of heart warming and a few tearful moments during the auction. We heard from parents of children whose lives were saved by the programs at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Auction lots included fantastic trips, exclusive wine dinners, concert events and lots more. Another emotional moment came when beloved chef Brian Roland appeared on screen to donate a private dinner. He was critically injured in a elevator accident a couple of years ago and has always been a big part of this event. To see and hear him, there was not a dry eye in the house.  Then there was a straight appeal for cash donations which raised a whopping $630,000.

The theme this year was 1960’s, Peace, Love & Wine, Giving is Groovy. It was fun to see how people dressed up. Next up, the exclusive Naples Winter Wine Festival. It is next weekend and I’ll be there as well. In the meantime, here is a look behind the scenes at a $2 million plus charity event. Congrats on another great year.

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