Wednesday, October 8, 2014

SPCA Fur Ball raises funds for homeless pets


By Jennifer Primrose | Oct 8, 2014

Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

As an animal lover, there is nothing I enjoy more than supporting our local animal shelters whether it be volunteering my time or attending a fundraising event.   My all-time favorite local fundraiser has been the SPCA of Wake County’s Annual Fur Ball to raise funds to help homeless pets in Wake County.  This year, the event celebrated its 19th annual Fur Ball on Sunday, Oct. 5 at the State Club in Raleigh and both my husband and I had the pleasure of attending this black-tie event again for the 3rd year in a row.   This year’s event brought in nearly 600 guests with ticket prices at $125 or $150 at the door and the dress was black-tie preferred with many women seen adorned in cocktail dresses and ball gowns.

The evening began with perusing the many silent auction items ranging from trips, tickets to local sporting events, jewelry, wine, and of course, items to bid on for your pets as well as many more!   We were lucky enough to walk out with two auction items that night and knowing the money raised will help Fido and Fluffy is just another added bonus!   The live auction presentation took place under the tent outside.   We opted not to bid on the live auction items this year, however, the highest bid of $5,000 for “Christmas in New York” which was donated by David Basnight of Beechwood Tours was won by Terry Evans of Black Rhino Enterprises, Inc.

The Fur Ball would not be complete with the puppies all decked out in their Sunday best!   Six yellow lab/pit bull mix puppies attended this event this year and it was just what this event needed to remind us all of why we were there – for the homeless animals!

There was plenty of food and beverages including passed hors d’oeuvres, plates, salads and garden bar, hot dishes and ‘merican made desserts.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), with our late arrival that evening and our focus on bidding on some excellent silent auction items, we missed the “main courses” but not the desserts!   We enjoyed banana pudding “shots”, Dr Browns and Howling Cow ice cream floats, sweet and savory popcorn and even milk and cookies!

All in all I would say this event was another great success by the SPCA of Wake County, raising nearly $224,000!

Look for these upcoming events to benefit the SPCA:

Oct 26  Down by the Tracks

Nov 16  Santa Paws 5K

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chapel Hill Festival draws crowd for food, beer and peppers


By Dathan Kazsuk | Oct 5, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

So, you haven’t heard of Abundance NC? Well, let me tell you a little bit about them. They are a local nonprofit organization dealing in bringing people together to celebrate great ideas and to help build an ideal community that we should all want to live in. A community based around being self-sufficient. A community where bringing local produce into school cafeterias could help our children with a healthier diet. A community where local farmers and chefs work together to give us farm-to-table meals on our plates.

And for the past seven years, Abundance has hosted the ever-so-fiery Pepper Festival. This year the event took place on Oct. 5 at Chapel Hill’s Briar Chapel neighborhood. Tickets for the event started around $20-$30 in advance and $35 at the door, and once inside, you can taste samples of all the local, gourmet food from over 20 chefs – all infusing locally grown peppers into their dishes.

From sweet to hot. From smoky to creamy. If you like peppers this was an event that shouldn’t have been missed. Usually events based around peppers, the chefs or contestants try to make the “hottest” dishes imaginable, but that was not the case here. These chefs thought out their dishes, and the peppers accommodated every ingredient in the dish. Nothing here was going to make you breathe fire and run for a gallon of milk.

Lilly Den Farm of Goldston, N.C. was serving at the 7th Annual Pepper Festival.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was there to be part of the judging of the pepper beer competition. It was myself, the N.C. Beer Guys (Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler) and 99.9 The Fan’s radio host, Joe Ovies.

Along with clipboard in hand, Jen and myself slowly made our way around to taste all the beers. First was Pittsboro’s Carolina Brewery. Though I do enjoy the beers the gang at Carolina Brewery craft like Sky Blue Golden and Oatmeal Porter, I thought the contribution to this year’s Pepper Festival fell slightly flat. Carolina Brewery infused peppers with its Flagship IPA – which normally is a great IPA, but the peppers had next to no ‘zing’ in the overall flavor of this beer.

Next up was newcomers, Regulator Brewing Company, out of Hillsborough. There we met co-founder Ryan Dodd, who gave us a couple samples of the Pepper Pale Ale. This beer was refreshing and it had the right amount of heat in the back of your throat. I could have easily kicked back a full pint of this pale ale.

Glasshalfull is a restaurant and wine bar based in Carrboro.
Now it was time to sample some food. At Carborro’s Glasshalfull, we sampled a pepper soup with sweet corn and shrimp. Cary’s Tribeca Tavern served up a peppered polenta with shredded peppered confit pork and a pepper jelly. And Top of the Hill Restaurant, out of Chapel Hill, had carved roast beef with several pepper condiments (from mild to hot). Of course I went straight for the hot!

At Top of the Hill, we picked up sample No. 3 of my beer judging, and that was the Habanero IPA. Wow! Did this one pack a punch! You felt the heat in your mouth, and moments later after you took a swig, the heat still lingered. Jen, who generally isn’t a fan of most IPAs, also enjoyed the flavor of this beer. By the time we came back for seconds, the beer was tapped out! Way to go.

A couple booths over we tried some N.C. grits and peppers with house made Italian sausage and bacon tobago jam from Raleigh’s 518 West. There I ran into blogger/author Johanna Kramer (a.k.a. the Durham Foodie) and 518‘s chef, Serge Falcon-Vigne. It was nice to see the two of them again. I haven’t seen Chef Serge isn’t his last stint in the annual Fire in the Triangle competition.

Food blogger/author Johanna Kramer and 518 West's chef Serge Falcon-Vigne.

The next beer on my list was from Carrboro’s Steel String Brewery. It was the Spicy No Quarter Coffee Stout – infused with three different peppers. A nice hint of heat resided towards the finish of this beer that made this another great beer to have on a nice Fall evening. I could have taken a growler of this home with me to enjoy out by the fire pit.

We could have spent a lot more time at the Pepper Fest on that day, but we had to get ready to head towards another event that evening, so we made our way towards the last beer to sample for the afternoon. Last up was another newcomer in the craft beer world, YesterYears Brewery, out of Carrboro.

At YesterYears we sampled the Fiddlehead PJB (pepper jelly beer). Another great beer! This beer had the heat from the peppers, but also sweetness of the jam. The guys also had 5 other beers available to sample that afternoon, including a peppermint stout and a citrus hefeweizen. Their brick-and-mortar taproom will be opening up by the Cat’s Cradle venue in Carrboro in early 2015 … definitely worth checking out.

This afternoon I only sampled the pepper beers, but there was more than enough food and beverages for all ages. Crude Small-Batch Bitters & Sodas had a variety of sodas to sample, such as the Habanero Lime Soda. Fair Game Beverage Co. had a Tobago-Scuppernong Spritzer. Larry’s Coffee had a Mayan chocolate with pepper flakes, and Durham’s Mystic Bourbon Liqueur was on hand pouring samples of its sweetened, spiced bourbon. That reminds me, I need to pick up a bottle of that.

Festifall Arts Festival offers arts, music and outreach

Chapel Hill's Festifall Arts Festival was an afternoon of arts, music and awareness.
Photo by Gina Sanders


By Gina Sanders, Guest Blogger | Oct 5, 2014

Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

It could not have been a more beautiful Fall day for Chapel Hill’s Festifall Arts Festival. At 65 degrees, W. Franklin Street was a hub of activity. My daughter, Haley Reeder, talked about how cool it was to see all the creative energy alive and my husband Gary said he really enjoyed the variety of music that was playing. One of the vendors spoke of how they appreciated the organization of the early set up because it allowed her to walk around before the public arrived so she could see all that was being represented today.

I would encourage you to check out some of my whimsical favorites: Hand crafted mixed media mosaics by Gina Boyle at, sculptures by, copper art at, gorgeous wooden bowls by Al Hartman at, and pottery by our friend Nancy at   Paintings done with bee’s wax, felted florals, stained and fused glass creations, hand painted silk scarves, not to mention various styles of jewelry – these events are perfect for finding something local and unique for gift giving!  Hint-hint!

Music danced in the air from one end to the other. The Koolest had the crowd energized from the Live & Local stage when we arrived.  I’m a little sad that I didn’t plan enough in advance to catch Lynn Blakely’s performance on the DSI Stage, because I love the tone in her voice. A delightful surprise was a group of four guys sitting on a low wall; strumming, plucking, and spooning their bluegrass jams - calling themselves Piedmont Regulators.

This was also a great venue for public outreach!  We were asked if we were registered to vote and encouraged to make ourselves aware of any new voting laws. Library cards, Triangle Transit, and smoke detector awareness were also represented.

Gina Sanders and Haley Reeder 
at the Festifall Festival on Oct. 5
Photo by Gina Sanders

The Interactive Zone was alive with families with children learning how to create (and take home) their own Spin Art. Poetry Fox wrote custom poems and the North Carolina Symphony let kids try and learn about a variety of instruments. Let us not forget about the NCLUG Lego sculptures with tables of free standing Legos for kids to get their own creative juices flowing.  I really love events like these that are also kid friendly!

It was a great afternoon to enjoy some of the creativity that makes living in the Triangle such a treat! Buy local!