Though the event actually began in 2010, a one-year absence due to COVID-19 pandemic safety restrictions means that the Toast to Tamarac will celebrate its 10th anniversary this Friday, Sept. 10 at Richwood Winery.

The annual fundraiser for Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge's environmental education programming is hosted by the Friends of Tamarac, who are busy putting the finishing touches on the event.

"The silent auction is shaping up to be amazing," exclaimed event organizer Vonnie Jacobson. "We still have tons of stuff coming in. It's going to be huge."

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 / Tribune)
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 / Tribune)

Everything from gift certificates donated by local businesses to hand-crafted items created especially for the event by local artisans will be part of this year's silent auction. Several of the donated items can be viewed at the Friends' Facebook page.

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The fundraiser will also include live music from the David Ferreira Trio, environmentally-themed lawn games, several types of hot and cold appetizers and a cash bar, featuring some of the winery's own vintages.

Though there are currently no mandates in place regarding the wearing of masks or social distancing, Jacobson said attendees are encouraged to bring masks and wear them while inside the winery's tasting room, which is where the restrooms and gift shop are located, and where the food will be served.

Tickets are $35 in advance, or $40 at the door; advance tickets may be purchased at Central Market, Lakeside Tavern or Richwood Winery, as well as online at tamaracfriends.org. Each guest will get a commemorative wine glass and a ticket for a free glass of wine, beer or mixed drink of their choice.

All proceeds from the event will go to support Tamarac's environmental education programs, which engage more than 750 local grade school children each year in learning more about nature and the value of taking care of their environment. Some of the things that the annual fundraiser will pay for include backpacks, writing journals, craft supplies and a variety of outdoor educational tools.

All of Tamarac's environmental education programs are designed to be compatible with current Minnesota curriculum standards, and classes are taught by a talented group of volunteers.

"We're trying to develop future stewards of our wild spaces," Jacobson said, noting that Tamarac has over 43,000 acres of wilderness to explore.