“Wine With Friends” a Success!

On the evening of October 12, the Friends of the Chester Library hosted their 2nd   annual wine tasting fundraiser: Wine with Friends, hosted by Plucky Wines of the Pluckemin Inn. While they stayed with a few tried and true elements of the first year, like the fabulously popular chocolate tasting table hosted by J. Emanuel Chocolatier, a food and dessert table to equal any restaurant buffet, beautiful harvest decorations throughout the library, and wonderful baskets and silent auction items donated by local businesses and various celebrities including autographed memorabilia, event tickets and celebrity meet & greets, there were a few changes.

The most notable change was the fabulous pre-event wine seminar hosted by Chris Cree, Master of Wine from the Pluckemin Inn.  It was a sell-out crowd as the group tasted and learned about 4 different wines poured for tasting and followed by a question and answer forum.  After the seminar it was on to the actual wine tasting event where many guests mingled with friends while sampling a wide variety of wines from all over the world.  The Friends wanted to make the event more guest friendly so high-top tables were added, Amir Mortezai, a talented pianist, made sure it was a lively, fun, atmosphere, and commemorative wine glasses were given to guests to take home.

The Wine With Friends fundraiser made $8700 this year and Lesley Karczewski, Director of the Chester Library will use these funds to continue with adult and children programing, Museum Passes, and a new automatic screen to enhance the existing AV system (purchased with the funds from last year’s event).  The AV system is also available for use by outside groups who reserve the Larison Room for their own programs and events.

The Friends of the Chester Library fully fund a whopping 262 Adult Programs which includes lectures, events, book clubs, lunch and learn, crafts, movies, senior lunches and recreational groups such as knitting, Bunco, and Yoga. All free to Chester residents. Additionally, their fundraising efforts sponsors computer classes and tech help as well as funding 222 children programs throughout the year.  Without fundraising from The Friends which include not only the Wine event, but a monthly pop-up book sale, a shredding event, and a Book Sale, the Chester Library may have to go the route that many local libraries have found themselves forced into: having patrons pay for programs. Fundraising matters.

Legally mandated funding has been declining for many years, and, although it seems to have levelled out, the library received over $130,000 less in 2018 than it got in 2009.  This is in no way a reflection on the towns’ leadership, it’s simply due to ratable being frozen.  What this means is as the cost of everything continues to rise the library has to make do with less by cutting programs…or rely more on fundraising.

Other items on the library’s wish list are a children’s outdoor story time pit, more museum passes, and digital messaging throughout all rooms to highlight upcoming programs.

The Friends are in the process of looking into other fun fundraising ideas and some comments have included adding a craft beer tasting table and a whisky and bourbon tasting table to the next Wine With Friends, an indoor miniature golf event at the library, and bringing back the brick fundraiser. But whatever is decided, the Friends look forward to continuing to play a vital role in the success of the Chester Library.

Photos from the night can be found on the Friends of the Chester Library Facebook page.

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