The White Bear Lake Rotary Club is doing its part to help local businesses during the pandemic. Instead of canceling the eighth annual Taste of White Bear fundraiser, the club is changing the format.
Taste celebrates White Bear’s food and beverage vendors while raising money for Rotary projects. Last year, the September event generated $40,000; half the money came from sponsorships.
“Because of the COVID pandemic, Taste 2020 will be different than past years,” noted Rotarian Michael Lovett, committee chair. “Instead of tickets, we will sell passports that allow the holder to receive food and beverage items from restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops.”
Passports go on sale July 1. They are available online for a cost of $40 at tasteofwhitebearlake.com. The price is the same as last year. Each passport holder will be assigned a unique number that entitles the purchaser to a complimentary menu or specialty item or discount for the next two months.
“As a sponsor, you will be directly supporting the service and charitable work of the White Bear Rotary Club, and also generating tremendous goodwill in our community by supporting our community food and beverage vendors, many of whom have suffered significantly as a result of the pandemic,” said Rotarian Greg Bartz, who is helping market the passport initiative. He calls it an “investment in optimism and hope.”
The Passport will also provide admission to a celebratory Taste event at Pine Tree Apple Orchard Saturday, Sept. 12. Design of the social event will depend on what health and safety guidelines are governing outdoor events at the time.
“We’re pushing this to save restaurants and bars before they end up shutting down,” stressed Bartz, who admitted they had to get creative this year. “Our goal is to help drive customers into local establishments at a time when they need us most,” he said.
The money Rotary makes is an afterthought this year, added Bartz, “as it should be. We really want to help these businesses. And it’s a fun way to get a taste of the wonderful restaurants we have in our area.”
The event remains a major fundraiser for the White Bear club, which funds projects both in the community and abroad. The casual event in September will include refreshments by drink vendors and a walk through the orchard to celebrate the outdoors.