The Soroptimists of St. Helena held its Oktoberfest celebration at the historic Bale Grist Mill last Saturday as a fundraiser for victims of the Valley Fire, raising about $10,000 for the Lake and Napa county fire victims.

There was plenty of music, local artisanal sausages, breads, and beers for all. The event was sold out with more than 300 guests paying $60 per person.

The grounds were transformed into an authentic-feeling German beer garden with lights hung on trees, tables covered with oil cloth, and sunflower floral arrangements from Centerpiece Napa Valley. There were locally made Bavarian style sauerkraut from Sonoma Brinery, fresh fennel and garlic sausages handmade by Calistoga’s Cal Mart butcher Rick Sereni, and of course beer: artisanal lagers and ales made from hops and grains grown locally by the Mad Fritz Brewing Co.

Complementing the feast was a menu of cold cucumber salad, punch potatoes with sea salt, potato rolls from the ABC Bakery, and for dessert, Apple Galette made expressly for the event by the expert chef-instructors at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

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Holly Hubbard Preston of the Soroptimists of St. Helena said that firefighters in the Napa Valley were offered complimentary tickets in recognition of their dedicated work on the Valley Fire, which began Sept. 12 and was 97 percent contained as of Tuesday.

The Steve Balich Band entertained the crowd with polkas, and Alan Arnopole led guests to a world-class yodeling demonstration, followed by a “yodel-off” contest.

The Soroptimists of St. Helena – a member of Soroptimists International – held the event to raise funds for victims of the Valley Fire. Preston said that many of the vendors who participated in the event decided to forego their fees when they understood the purpose of the event.

Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement dedicated to helping transform the lives of women and girls. The organization has a network of around 80,000 club members in 130 countries and territories to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls and their families.

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Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.

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