The 13th Festival of Wines: Cocktails & Cuisine benefits the American Heart Association was held Oct. 5.


The annual event was held at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, where it has been held since 2007. The event featured wine tastings, food samplings, as well as a silent and premier auction.


“This is the 13th year for our event, though we have changed some things including the name, which is now Festival of Wines: Cocktails & Cuisine,” Central Arkansas American Heart Association Executive Director Joyce Taylor said. “We feel the longer name fully encompasses the offerings of the event. Dickey-Stephens Park allows for quite a bit of guests to join us for Cen-tral Arkansas’ largest wine festival. We’ve held the event at the park since it opened in 2007.”


Over 1,000 people were in attendance, raising $150,000 that will be used by the American Heart Association for philan-thropic efforts.


“Approximately 1,200 people came to Dickey-Stephens Park for the evening, the Association expects to close the event at $150,000,” Central Arkansas America Heart Association Director of Communications Rebecca Buerkle said.


The 2017 Festival of Wines: Cocktails & Cuisine was a success in large part to the people working behind the scenes. Co-chairs Allison and Dr. Gary Nash hope to raise awareness and promote fundraising efforts through the annual event. The Executive Committee along with the Auction and Host Committee for the event worked tirelessly to make sure the event ran smoothly again this year.


The fundraising efforts will solely benefit endeavors of the American Heart Association to improve lives.


“All proceeds from the event benefit the American Heart Association,” Buerkle said. “Of that 80 cents of every dollar goes to efforts in Central Arkansas focused on research, education, public policy and community programs. This includes working to pass healthy vending policies in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas as well as efforts to close the gaps in quality medical treat-ment. We can accomplish this with the help of programs like ‘Get With The Guidelines and Mission: Lifeline’; which ensure quality of emergency care and response.”


The Festival of Wines is geared towards food and wine lovers all kinds, as long they are of the legal drinking age. With food samplings available from over 15 restaurants and over 100 wines, the event provides a plethora of options for guests to enjoy. Taylor finds it difficult to pinpoint her favorite aspect of the event.


“There are so many things, it is difficult to pick a favorite,” Taylor said. “I think being able to try so many items is. With 16 restaurants on hand, hundreds of wines and signature cocktails, the event provides an excellent opportunity for our guests to try something new. This event is for everyone, 21 years and older. It’s a perfect date night, wonderful for an outing with friends. Any-one who enjoys great foods and wines would love Festival of Wines: Cocktails & Cuisine.”


Guests from all over Central Arkansas were in attendance. Some attended for the first time and others have been faithful supporters, looking forward to the annual event each year.


“I look forward to the Festival of Wines every year,” Shelby Owens of North Little Rock said. “I heard about this event four years ago when my mom invited me to join her and I haven’t missed one since. This year the sponsors outdid themselves! The people are good, the food is great, but the wine is the best!”


The Festival of Wines: Cocktails & Cuisine would not be as successful without the sponsors and supporters.


“Festival of Wines: Cocktails & Cuisine has some truly devoted supporters,” Taylor said. “Our wine sponsor, Central & Moon Distributors has been supporting this event since its first year in 2004. Arkansas Heart Hospital has returned for the second year as our presenting sponsor. This is an event people love to attend and support; and we are so thankful for that!”


Restaurant sponsors included: Agave; Arkansas Heart Hospital; Bar Louie; Blue Cake Company; Bonefish Grill; Bray Gourmet; Cache Restaurant; Cheers in the Heights; Ciao Baci; District Far; P.F. Chang’s China Bistro; Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill; Skinny J’s; Stratton’s Market; The Tavern Sports Grill; Two Sisters Catering; and YaYa’s Euro Bistro.


Local media affiliations Alice 107.7 and KATV got behind the event and served as the event’s media sponsors.


Event affiliates want to thank attendees for making the event a success and supporting the overall cause to prevent heart disease and stroke.


“Heart disease and stroke affect all of us,” Buerkle said. “The American Heart Association is committed to helping people experience more of life’s precious moments. By coming to our event, every one of our guests and supporters is helping in the cru-cial fight against the nation’s No. 1 killer.”