Harry & David event benefits ACCESS, Inc.

The seventh-annual Taste of Harry & David fundraiser will give area residents a chance to sample fine wines and foods and help a local nonprofit at the same time.

"The event is about our passion for great-tasting food," said Bill Krumpeck, director of marketing for Harry & David stores. "You enjoy yourself, and you're helping your neighbors."

The casual fundraiser will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Harry & David Country Village, 1314 Center Drive, Medford. Admission to the event is $15, but the price will be reduced to $10 for people who donate five cans or boxes of nonperishable food. Each admission includes a $10 merchandise coupon.

The canned and boxed foods will be donated to ACCESS, Inc., which operates a network of local food banks. Harry & David also donates pears and about 30,000 pounds of peaches to ACCESS in late September.

"It's a huge plus for us because it's wonderful to get fresh fruit to complement other food we have donated," said Gary Miller, chief executive officer of ACCESS, which has partnered with Harry & David on the event for three years. "It provides for a nutritious meal."

Krumpeck's said the company's goal is to provide ACCESS with more than 40,000 pounds of food this year through the various efforts.

Miller said the Harry & David event is one of the biggest food drives of the year and he hopes it brings in the protein-rich donations that ACCESS clients need, such as peanut butter and tuna fish.

The event is open to all ages and will feature 50 booths that will offer samples of items ranging from local wines to artisan cheeses. Twenty wineries will be on hand and will include Agate Ridge Vineyards, Cowhorn Winery, Crater Lake Cellars, EdenVale Winery, Shasta View Vineyards and RoxyAnn Winery.

Other sampling booths will offer bites of some of Harry & David's unique products, such as Creamy Banana Peanut Spread, salsas, pasta sauces, and the first public sampling of the Crab Norfolk chowder. It's an opportunity for people to try out some of the company's more exotic fares.

"How many times do you walk into a store and ask, 'I wonder if that's good?' " said Krumpeck.

Four bands will take the stage beginning at noon, and tours of Harry & David's orchard and EdenVale vineyards begin at noon and 2 p.m. each day.

About half of the guests at last year's event brought a donation to ACCESS, Krumpeck said. This year, the goal is to double it and collect 6,000 pounds, Miller said.

"It's wonderful to have partners like Harry & David that are helping us out," Miller said. "It's just that the demand is outstripping the supply. Every can helps."

Reach reporting intern Stacey Barchenger at 776-4464 or e-mail her at intern1@mailtribune.com.

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