Between the sound of music playing and forks scraping on plates Monday night, Oct. 10, attendees of the 17th annual A Culinary Experience praised both the food options available at the event and the work of the county's Rape Crisis Intervention Service, which it benefitted.
A Culinary Experience is RCIS's largest fundraiser, CEO Janice Kispert said, and it drew a crowd that packed into Martin's Westminster on Monday to eat, drink, and bid on items donated by community members and local businesses. It included samples from more than a dozen restaurants, as well as items like jewelry and bags available for auction.
While the numbers hadn't yet been crunched by Oct. 11, Kispert said RCIS hopes to have raised about $30,000 after expenses.
The money will go toward supporting RCIS's work in providing counseling and support to sexual violence victims as well as educational and training programs.
"We really rely on this as financial support," Kispert said, adding that the funds raised help to make sure that RCIS can continue to offer its services for free.
After all the food had been tasted, three winners were selected among the restaurants. The people's choice for savory went to Fratelli's Restaurant in Hampstead, while Stone House Cakery & Café in Taneytown took home the award for people's choice, sweet and favorite table decor.
Stone House owner Lois Trout said it was her first year participating in the event. She offered attendees cupcakes and cookies from a display make of fall leaves and wooden crates.
"It's a great way to give back to the community," she said, noting that she hoped the exposure from the event would help her business as well. "It's a win-win for everybody."
Attendees said it's a win for them too.
"I try to support all the nonprofits in Carroll County, and this is one of the ones I think really makes a difference," said commissioner Stephen Wantz, who attended the event with his wife. "They do some great work here."
Employees from New Windsor State Bank, one of the sponsors of the event, said they were happy to help put on A Culinary Experience.
"Food, food and more food," is the top attraction every year, said Diane Steckel, who works in human resources for New Windsor State Bank.