By MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Its slogan may be “see, touch, explore, discover,” but when it comes to this year’s “gala” fundraiser, the Great Lakes Children’s Museum is all about taste.
Farm Fete, a farm-to-table fundraiser on Feb. 23, will celebrate the museum and local foods and wines with a three-course dinner including wine pairings. In keeping with the theme, live and silent auctions will feature several prizes from the local agricultural community, from food baskets to shares in CSAs.
There’s even a “Day at the Farm” during which the top bidder can milk cows and goats at Telford Farm in Cedar.
“Last year they did it in the fall so we carved pumpkins and sat on hay bales in the barn and watched a movie,” said Ellen Fred, museum board president, gala co-chairman and a resident of the community farm.
This year’s gala will be held at the Suttons Bay agricultural estate, Black Star Farms. Attendees will dine on dishes like roasted beet and pear salad with candied marcona almonds, goat cheese, spring greens and verjus vinaigrette; and coffee and red wine-braised beef short ribs served with fromage blanc baked polenta, wilted arugula and crisp leeks.
Other auction prizes include an evening sail for six on the Tall Ship Champion, several golf packages and overnight adventure packages featuring the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum in Marquette.
Officials hope to top last year’s event proceeds of over $29,000 — “an important part of our financial picture,” said museum administrator Martha Belfour.
Belfour said memberships and admissions account for about 50 percent of the museum’s annual budget of about $250,000. The museum relies on fundraisers and grants to raise the rest.
“This is by a long shot our major fundraiser of the year that is not entry fees at the door,” Fred said.
Proceeds support hands-on learning activities at the museum, which welcomed its 250,000th visitor in 2010. The museum offers year-round, school break and summer programs in about 5,000 square feet of gallery and program space.
Popular programs include Toddler Time, featuring developmental free-play activities led by a museum educator; NanoDays, part of a nationwide celebration of nanoscale science; and Make it Mondays, featuring crafts — from solar prints to concrete creations — to make and take home.
“The overall goal is to encourage creativity and critical thinking and the sorts of skills that might not be so commonly taught in schools,” said museum executive director John Noonan. “We’re trying to help children and families get creative and better informed.”
Gala tickets are $50 at the museum or online at greatlakeskids.org. For more information, call 932-4526.