BRISTOL – Hundreds took part in the annual Festival of Wines and Spirits Saturday evening, listening to jazz and tasting a variety of drinks and foods at DoubleTree by Hilton, ultimately to raise funds for the Bristol Hospital and its emergency power supply system.
The Bristol Hospital Foundation holds a few major fundraisers a year to support the needs of Bristol Hospital, including the festival, a golf classic and a holiday ball, said the Foundation’s Associate Director Kaitlyn Pratt.
“The impact of all of these help us to have a more fun way to fundraise,” she said. “We get people together where they have a great time and there are auction items and things like that. Right now, we’re trying to raise funds to help with infrastructure. We’re looking at two brand new generators.”
Pratt noted that the generators serve as an emergency power supply for the hospital. If they fail, it could put the care of many patients in jeopardy. According to displayed information detailing the power supply system’s needs, Bristol Hospital serves over 47,000 patients a year. One of the generators needing replaced dates back to 1968 and the other to 1983. As parts become obsolete and repairs costly, the hospital needs to replace them.
Bristol Hospital needs $5.5 million to complete the replacements and has acquired $3 million through a state grant. That still leaves $2.5 million in funding needed.
Brian Dehm, chair of the board of trustees for the Bristol Hospital Foundation, called the tasting event a “great way to raise money.”
“The generators are really old,” he said. “Our mission is to raise money for the hospital for whatever need in the current year. That’s normally determined by the board and Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of the hospital.”
The chair said the hospital was close to him and that giving to it was a good way of giving back to the community it served.
As a way of supporting that community, Maple End Package Store took part in organizing the various spirits and wine distributors for the tasting event. More than 220 wines, beers and spirits were offered.
“I believe this is our 23rd year and we had a little interruption with covid,” said Maple End Package Store Owner Marvin Friedman. “One of the doctors a number of years ago decided the hospital could make some money with a wine tasting. He contacted me and I said we could do something. It started very small and the first tasting was at the Farmington Country Club.”
The tasting event has only grown, he added, and at times raised between $40,000 to $50,000 for a single night due to ticket sales, sponsorships, wine sales and more. In previous years, the evening’s proceeds have gone to the hospital’s emergency room needs.
Among the visitors were Joel and Lizbeth Carmichael who said this was their third tasting event with Bristol Hospital.
“We love to be able to support the community that we work in,” Lizbeth said.
Sharp Five Jazz Quintet served as the evening’s featured musical act.