Spotlight on Evy Nordley Finalist #2:

wine.jpgAuthor readings, wine tastings, and silent auctions are all common enough on their own, but it takes a hefty dose of creativity and planning to roll all three activities into one fundraiser. In August 2013, The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library did just this, with their inaugural “Wine and Words” program.

Held at the beautiful Arrowwood Resort Hotel & Conference Center in Alexandria, Wine and Words featured not one, not two, but five accomplished writers: Sandra Brannan, Lorna Landvik, Sarah Pekkanen, William Kent Kreuger, and Wendy Webb.

Authors and guests alike enjoyed an impressive spread, with sumptuous dishes like champagne chicken and wild rice pilaf scoring high marks. Delicious as the meal was, the real highlight for the palate was the wine tasting. Beverages were donated by a local liquor store.

Indeed, The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library’s ability to find a number of generous partners (particularly ‘in-kind’ sponsors) proved crucial to their success. Arrowwood took care of author accommodations, and an area printer provided brochure and ticket printing free of charge. Local bookseller Book World facilitated on-site book sales for author signings. A number of businesses donated valuable items to the silent auction.

Moreover, Wine and Words enjoyed a veritable blitz of promotions – at least when compared with what’s typical for Friends programs in a community the size of Brainerd. In addition to a strong social media presence, a new website, and favorable coverage in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch, that included comped radio spots.

All this paid off. President Sheila DeChantal set what she thought was an ambitious goal of 100 attendees. “The results were well beyond our expectations,” she said. “We had 180 people purchase tickets!” Wine and Words cleared over $8,500 for the library’s use, and also served as an effective recruitment drive. “By having Friends applications at each place setting, we also increased our membership that evening by 24 members,” DeChantal reported.

Needless to say, Wine and Words will be a staple on Brainerd’s community calendar from here on out!