We’ve all learned during these times that we need to not only carry on, but also learn how to “reimagine” carrying on our events. It was with great enthusiasm that the Rotary Club of Ojai’s 2019/2020 “Rising Star” and Taste of Ojai Chair Tara Saylor did just that and more!
Along with a stellar committee effort led by Tara, the club’s annual fundraising event went both live at Ojai’s Topa Mountain Winery and online via Zoom, with a well-choreographed and beautifully filmed event highlighting local restaurants, ranches, wineries and breweries for the entire community to enjoy.
While the usual event brings close to  500 guests partaking in fine food samplings, music, auction items, wine and other libations all donated by local business, this year the Rotary Club of Ojai instead donated back to the restaurants who have supported this event for the past 25 years.
With 50% of each ticket going to gift certificates to ticket holders, donations directly back to the restaurants totaled over $10,000!
The restaurant owners also participated in beautifully produced 5-minute videos that can be seen year-round on the Taste of Ojai website. Along with these videos there are also virtual wine and beer tastings, a celebrity cooking demonstration by celebrity chef & James Beard awardee Suzanne Tracht, a Taste of Ojai recipe book, and a downloadable playlist from local musicians for a full Ojai experience.
Together with ticket sales, a silent online auction and generous sponsorships, another $23,000 was raised, which will fund the Rotary Club of Ojai’s Community Grants program awarded to local non-profits in the early Spring.
The final outcome of the very first Virtual Taste of Ojai was equivalent (and in some cases even better) than past in person events and shows with some ingenuity, teamwork and positivity there is nothing we can’t accomplish together!