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Tuesday, January 7, 2014
PHOTO COURTESY OF KENAN CENTER - Attendees of the 2013 Niagara
Wine & Beer Tasting Fest sample a glass of wine. 
If sampling local wines and craft beers is your idea of fun, the Kenan Center will be a veritable playground later this month.

The Niagara Wine & Beer Tasting Fest, taking place Jan. 25 from 5-9 p.m., has reached capacity in the past two years and has every expectation that it will again this year. With new additions to its tasting and entertainment lineup, organizers expect the 1,100 tickets to go fast.

This year's edition of the winter event will feature more than 30 wineries, breweries, specialty foods, and a variety of restaurants who will be serving up their favorites.

Co-chairs Mark Jaekle and Tom Murphy are enthusiastic about additions to this year’s event that build on positive improvements made in 2013. One of those improvements will include new music by Varuna, a four-piece band performing a blend of Latin jazz, nuevo flamenco, and world music. There will also be a basket raffle and 50/50 split.

While there are a number of wine-based events and beer-based events throughout Western New York - particularly in the summer, combining wineries and breweries together in a fundraising event is a rare occurrence, according to Jaekle and Murphy.

To make it work successfully, the committee sought feedback early on from members of the Niagara Wine Trail.

“Ensuring their participation is really a collaborative effort,” Jaekle says. “We really want people to move from tasting to buying the wines they enjoy.” As Jaekle explains, the more the wineries are able to sell their product, the more likely they are to continue participating as the event grows in popularity and recognition.

Attendees - who must be 21 and over with proof of age - will each receive a tasting glass, journal, 20 tickets, and a $5 food voucher. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased. There are also special tickets available for designated drivers which do not include the glass, journal or tasting tickets.

It's expected that as many as 100 volunteers will be needed on the day of the event. Volunteers get to drink in the atmosphere - but not the alcohol.

Pre-sale tickets are available online, at the Kenan Center business office and the arena for $25. Tickets may be available at the door for $35 if the event hasn't already sold out.

Proceeds of the event benefit the Kenan Center and its diverse arts, education, and recreation programs.

For more information, call 433-2617 or email

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