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Stomping grapes and toasting Tamarac: Richwood Winery is the place to be Sept. 7-8

Wine sampling is a favorite part of Richwood Winery's annual Grape Stomp Festival, which last year drew well over 700 people. Vicki Gerdes / Tribune1 / 4
Area nature (and wine) lovers are invited to come to Richwood Winery and raise a glass to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge as part of the annual Toast to Tamarac fundraiser, set for Friday, Sept. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m. Vicki Gerdes / Tribune2 / 4
The annual Grape Stomp Festival at Richwood Winery actually includes a grape stomping competition, where two-person teams — some of them in costume — compete for fun and prizes. This year's event is set for Saturday, Sept. 8 from 1 to 7 p.m., with the stomp taking place at 3:30. Vicki Gerdes / Tribune3 / 4
The silent auction held as part of the annual Toast to Tamarac is one of the fundraiser's biggest draws, with hundreds of items donated by area businesses and individuals, most of them featuring a wildlife or nature theme. Vicki Gerdes / Tribune4 / 4

While most lakes area residents view Labor Day weekend as the last blast of summer, the good folks at Richwood Winery see it as a last chance to catch their breath before their busiest weekend of the season.

For the past few years, the Friday and Saturday after Labor Day have been reserved for the Toast to Tamarac, a fundraiser for the nearby Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Grape Stomp Festival, a celebration of the winery's annual grape harvest.

"It works out well for us," says winery coordinator Deb Krogsgaard. "We can share the same (rented) tent for our guests, and the setup is similar... though not identical."

First up is the 8th annual Toast to Tamarac, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7.

As always, all proceeds from the Toast will benefit Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge — specifically its environmental education programs, which are staffed primarily by Friends of Tamarac volunteers. About 800 kids from area schools come out to the Refuge three times a year — in the fall, winter and spring, to experience all the different seasons and learn about nature, using all of their senses, and they also journal about their experiences. Various refuge activities are incorporated into these classes, from snowshoeing and hiking to petting animal pelts, measuring trees and observing the many varieties of local plants and wildlife found at Tamarac.

Tickets for "The Toast" are $35 at the door, or they may be purchased in advance for $30 at Richwood Winery, the Tamarac Visitor's Center Gift Shop, Central Market, or by calling 218-846-9815 or 218-847-7193.

Hosted by the Friends of Tamarac, the Toast will feature a silent auction, wildlife-themed games of chance, wine sampling — featuring the winery's own unique vintages — and hearty appetizers.

The majority of the festivities will take place under two big tents on the winery's lawn, so the event will be held rain or shine. There is plenty of parking at the winery, with golf cart assistance available for those who need help getting around the grounds. The event will also feature live music by the David Ferreira Trio.

Immediately after the winery's staff is done helping Friends volunteers with their annual fundraiser, they will turn right around and get ready for the seventh annual Grape Stomp Festival, which takes place from 1 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.

For $10 per person (kids under age 21 are admitted free of charge), guests not only receive a commemorative festival wine glass, but also have an opportunity to sample the winery's finest vintages — and listen to not just one, but two different music acts: Detroit Lakes native Terry Mackner, who now makes his home in Fargo, and musical duo GC & the Kruse, also from the Fargo-Moorhead area.

About a dozen local vendors will be selling their wares, and the Green Canteen Food

Truck will be offering lunch or supper items for purchase as well. Of course, there will be plenty of wine on hand, to be purchased by the glass, in bottles, or just for tasting. Beer, sangria, water and soda will also be available for purchase at one of the bars set up around the festival grounds, along with cheese and other snack items.

And then there's the Grape Stomp itself, which takes place from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Two-person teams can sign up prior to the competition at the registration table outside the winery's lower level. There will be six heats, each containing four 2-person teams that will use one of four barrels set up on the stomping stage. Each heat takes approximately 2 minutes, after which the amount of juice from each barrel will be weighed.

Award winners will be announced after the final stompers' results have been recorded.

Once again, prizes will be offered for both the best stompers and the best team costumes.

Last year's festival drew well over 700 people. The staff is hoping for a similar turnout this year.

For more information, visit www.richwoodwinery.com or call 218-844-5990.

Other coming attractions

The weekend of Sept. 7-9 is a busy one, featuring a race with a 23-year tradition in the lakes area, a salad luncheon showcasing the talents of some of Detroit Lakes' very own "church basement ladies," and much more.

• Ham salad, bean salad, taco salad, crab salad, fruit salad, coleslaw... these are just a few examples of the vast array of tasty choices to be found at the 18th Annual Grace Lutheran Church Salad Luncheon, which takes place this year on Friday, Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, and can be purchased in advance at the church office (213 Roosevelt Ave., Detroit Lakes, open from 8 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday), for $10 per person. For more information, call Michelle Peterson at 218-841-7498.

• Comedian Larry the Cable Guy — also known as Dan Whitney — will perform at Mahnomen's Shooting Star Casino, Hotel & Event Center this Friday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45 and are on sale now. They can be purchased by phone at 1-800-313-SHOW (7469), online at www.StarCasino.com, or via the "Get Tickets" tab on Shooting Star's Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/ShootingStarCasino.

• A post-Labor Day tradition in the lakes area for the past 23 years, the Dick Beardsley Races get underway at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 on Washington Avenue, in front of the Detroit Lakes Pavilion. A full schedule, including both pre and post-race events as well as start times for the half marathon, 5K, 10K and Youth Run, can be found at www.dickbeardsleyraces.com.

• A benefit for area resident Patrick Thompson, who will soon undergo open heart surgery and has been placed on the recipient list for a kidney transplant, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Shorewood Pub. There will be a live auction at 5:30 p.m., as well as a pulled pork dinner (admission is a free will donation). All are welcome. Donations can also be sent to: Patrick Thompson Benefit, ℅ First Security Bank, 611 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501. For more information please call Lowell, 218-841-2197, or Trish, 701-367-7501.

• Immanuel Lutheran Church of Audubon will host its annual fall dinner, featuring grilled pork loin, cheesy potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, dinner rolls, pickles, dessert and beverages, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. Admission is a free will offering; the church is located at 180 Swan St., just off Highway 10 in Audubon.

• Richwood Lutheran Church, located nine miles north on Highway 59 in rural Detroit Lakes, will host a pork roast supper from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. Cost is $10 for adults (age 13 and up) and $5 for kids ages 6-12; those age 5 and under are admitted free. Baked goods and garden produce will also be available for sale.

• Experience the beauty of an early autumn day on Blackbird Lake at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, Sept. 9. Join a refuge ranger and volunteer to explore nature during this time of change. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Blackbird Lake boat access for this leisurely 1.5 hour cruise. Bring your own kayak or canoe. Life jackets are required.

• A roast beef dinner and raffle to benefit Assumption Catholic Church of Callaway will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Callaway Event Center.

• Lake Grove Lutheran Church will host its annual fall dinner at the Waubun Community Center from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9, serving a chicken entree with salad bar and pie. Cost is $10 for those ages 12 and up or $5 for children ages 6-11; those age 5 and under are admitted free of charge.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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