Thirteen years ago, the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group threw their first Gourmet Grazing on the Green festival. The purpose was to help raise money for their organization, and it’s been incredibly successful in doing that. It’s also become a prime destination for local foodies looking to sample the best food, beer and wine in the area. Event director Keikilani McKay gave us a little more insight into this year’s event.
Anything new that people can expect this year?
KEIKILANI MCKAY: There are about 10 additional participants at this point. We have 29 wineries, breweries, and spirits, and then 30 restaurants. And a couple of lifestyle vendors; art and local products. New this year I have the Turkey Boat—they’re from Pajaro. We also have Odonata Wines—they haven’t participated in a few years. I have the Cremer House, Cantine Winepub in Aptos, Hive and Hum.
Can you explain briefly what the money raised will do?
All the proceeds go directly to the beneficiaries. SCCBG raises money to provide cancer services and research locally. The mission of the group is to help the beneficiaries fight cancer, and provide critical support services for families that are undergoing the trauma of cancer. The idea when we founded it was to simply give back to local services. The national organizations are doing a great job, but you don’t always feel the immediate impact in your community. This is an organization that delivers food to families that are undergoing cancer treatment, and don’t have time to make their dinner.
How many people do you expect this year?
Between 1,200 and 1,500. It started with about 250 people for the first several years, and it keeps growing each year. Last year, we had 1,200 attendees. We want it to grow, but we don’t want it to grow so big that it’s packed and overwhelming. Aptos Village Park is great, and we can accommodate about 2,500 people there. We want to keep it so you’re not fighting crowds.
How has the beer aspect of the event evolved?
The beer has definitely expanded over the last six years, especially with the movement here in Santa Cruz with craft beer. Discretion, Santa Cruz Ale Works, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery are part, as well as Sante Adairius and Uncommon Brewers. It’s definitely growing into a larger part of the conversation.
INFO: Noon-4 p.m. on Sept. 24, Aptos Village Park, 100 Aptos Creek Road., Aptos. $55-$70. 465-1989, sccbg.org.