Art, Books & Bites coming to the Library in October

A patron checks out at the front desk of the Los Banos library.
A patron checks out at the front desk of the Los Banos library. Submitted

“Art, Books and Bites” is the theme for the annual fundraiser for the Friends of the Los Banos Library. This year’s event will be Oct. 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Los Banos branch of the Merced County Library (1312 S. Seventh Street) in Pacheco Park.

Tickets for the Thursday evening fundraiser – which are still only $20 and include food, wine and fun – are available from any member of the Friends of the Los Banos Library and at Phoenix Books, 936 Sixth St. in Los Banos. All proceeds go to support the local public library.

There’s more to this year’s event.

“We will still be featuring works from local artists for sale,” said Stephanie Dees, this year’s chairperson, “but we will be adding other features to make the experience even more enjoyable.

“We will be pairing the homemade hors d’oeuvres, desserts and wine with well known books,” Dees said. “For example, with the book ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café’ we’ll have freshly made fried green tomatoes.”

Similar pairings will be made with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” will be featured next to the wine bar and “Under the Tuscan Sun” will be paired with Italian sausage kabobs.

Other book-and-food combinations include “James and the Giant Peach” with peach compote and brie cheese, “The Stinky Cheese Man” with a non-stinky cheese plate, “The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Cook Book” with a shrimp platter and “Hummus and Homicide” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will be jointly paired with hummus in a pumpkin display.

Coordinating the making and baking of the homemade hors d’oeuvres and desserts will be Shannon Cook, whose culinary creations have delighted patrons in the past.

The Friends will bring back the music of Steve Gorman on guitar. And this year John Cates will be master of ceremonies to help guide the evening.

As in previous years, local artists will contribute their work.

“This year’s selection of art will be varied,” said Colleen Menefee, who is coordinating the sale. “It will feature Kelly Mance and Naya Ramsey-Clark and include media such as watercolors, prints and original oils.”

There will also be a silent auction, including for a table-runner quilt from the Los Banos Quilting Guild and art work by Cyndi Roelofs. Many items will be included in a raffle, including books and posters.

“The art sales, silent auction and raffle will definitely help our bottom line in fundraising,” Stephanie said. “But more than anything, we want to emphasize the opportunity this year of socializing with other people who appreciate books and libraries and enjoy good food, wine and fun.”

Proceeds from “Art, Books and Bites” will be used by the Friends of the Los Banos Library to improve the local library. Thanks to this annual fundraiser, the Friends have been able to purchase furniture, equipment and books; help the Summer Reading Program with gift cards for dedicated readers; support special programs for children and teenagers; and continue to make the library a welcoming place for children and senior citizens and everyone in between.

As in previous years, local businesses and individuals have donated money and supplies to help cover the cost. “We are deeply appreciative,” said Friend Kim Carlucci, “of the local businesses who have responded to our requests to contribute and who wholeheartedly support our local library.”

The Friends are counting on local residents who care about libraries and enjoy good food, wine and art to join in the fun on Oct. 18 and help the local library. “Coming to this fundraiser,” said Friends president Billy Via, “will also enable people to see what a cheerful and welcoming place the library is.”

On another note: The Oct. 6 Los Banos Tomato Festival is coming soon. Check out the insert in today’s Enterprise detailing all the tomato activities planned – everything for a chili cook-off to a tomato pit tug of war.

IN MEMORIAM: Los Banos recently lost two of its most beloved longtime residents, Sherry Valentine and Claire Biel. Both radiated life and joy. Their smiles, energy and kindness have inspired and continue to inspire their families and their many, many friends. They will be deeply missed.

John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email john.spevak@gmail.com.