Blue Heron Brewery and Event Center was the new venue of United Way's 29th annual Taste of Medina County, held October 10. United Way was the first organization in the county to host this type of tasting event featuring delicious epicurean food prepared by the area's finest eating establishments.

Participating this year were: 111 Bistro, 17 Public Square, Diner 42, A Cupcake A Day, Blue Heron Brewery and Event Center, Buehler's Catering, Honey Bee Bakery, Rito's Italian Bakery and Deli, Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, Spokes Cafe, The Center Cafe at Medina County Career Center, Thyme2, and Westfield Country Club.

These fine dining restaurants served many of their signature dishes to the delight of the 400 anticipated attendees. The main entrees and sides were varied and tasty, and the desserts were not only decadent but also artistic creations.

The venue was not the only new feature of this year's event. Instead of 50 or 60 silent auction raffle baskets, the choices were narrowed down to four extravagant themed selections: a collection of fine wines, a generous lottery ticket grouping, a tree filled with gift cards, and a table consisting of several bottles of potent potables. The four prize packages were provided by Board members plus donations.

The arriving guests were greeted in the lobby by a graceful tower of free flutes of champagne. Another addition was a cigar and bourbon area set up on the patio, and for the more adventurous, High Voltage Indoor Karting cars for rides.

Admission entitled guests to a ticket that could be used to vote for their favorite restaurants. This year's winner was the The Center Cafe at Medina County Career Center. Chef Tony Szanislo and educational aide Lori Dominguez brought about a dozen students from the Culinary Arts Program who served, among other things, Cajun macaroni and cheese and handmade pierogies.

About four dozen students from local high schools volunteered to help out for the event.

Interim Director Maria Burk thanked everyone for their continuing support. United Way has been serving those in need in Medina County 90 years. She said the money raised helps UW care for and support those community members in need.

Board Chair Nick Hanek welcomed and thanked everyone for supporting this important event. Event Co-chairs Board member Carrie Park and Jessica Hazeltine said United Way does not shy away from problems, it helps those who need it the most. "The way we treat our neighbors says a lot about who we are."

Khadar Soussou, General Manager of Blue Heron, welcomed United Way and all the guests to the event and proudly announced the establishment now officially has its own brewery.

The generous sponsors were: Westfield, Westfield Bank, 3M, Brunswick University Center, First Energy Foundation, Holland and Muirden, Huntington, MTD, Root Candles, RPM, ruhlin, JOG, Sandridge Food Corporation, Armstrong, Critchfield, Critchfield, & Johnston, Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital, Pearlview, Plum Creek Assisted Living, Wichert Insurance, Cameo Landscape, Paul and Nancy Wellener, Oswald, Homestead Insurance, CLS Consulting LLC, Dean Holman, Ogden Post, and Waite and Son Funeral Homes.