Fork Fest Santa Barbara Dishes Out Support for Autism Care and Treatment

Tastings from restaurants, brewers, wineries and others blend together to benefit an organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing services

By Rochelle Rose, Noozhawk Contributing Writer | August 21, 2018

Fork Fest is one of Santa Barbara’s only foodie fork off and parking lot parties. This year, the annual event was held Saturday at a parking lot nestled next to El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on Canon Perdido Street in downtown Santa Barbara.

Proceeds will benefit Autism Care Today, a national nonprofit organization founded in 2005 whose mission is to raise awareness and provide treatment services and support to families to help their children with autism be able to achieve their full potential.

Organizers noted that one in 59 children in America have an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is more common than juvenile diabetes and pediatric cancer combined, and is the fastest-growing developmental disorder.

At Fork Fest, a blend of tastings from several restaurants, caterers, craft brewers and wineries were savored by hundreds of guests, who also grooved to tunes from Persian House Cat and DJ Magneto.

The Presidio neighborhood, where Fork Fest was held, is in the heart of Santa Barbara and is centered on the historical site of the last of the Spanish fortresses, or presidios, to be built in California. Encompassing what also once was the city’s Chinatown and Japantown, the neighborhood is home to a variety of locally owned shops, wine tasting rooms, eateries, bars and coffee houses as well as cultural treasures, such as the Presidio and the Lobero Theatre.

Hugh Margerum, Presidio neighborhood campaign president, vintner and Fork Fest culinary judge, told Noozhawk: “Fork Fest takes place in the heart of the Presidio neighborhood. Our new organization and Margerum supplied the pingpong table, bag balls games and other recreational activities to be enjoyed by guests at this fun fest. Six different Presidio neighborhood wineries are participating today — Harmony, Jamie Slone, Au Bon Climat, Grassini, Margerum and Frequency.”

Margerum joined with local newscaster John Palminteri to serve as celebrity judge for the tastings offered at the event. Guests also were asked to vote for their favorite purveyor, which added more excitement to the Fork Fest party.

Other purveyors included Brass Bear Brewing, Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant, Finch & Fork, Spudnuts, Bibi Ji, Buena Onda, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Happy Canyon Vineyard, Hippy Pop Popcorn, Oat Bakery, Patxi’s Pizza, M. Special Brewing, Outpost at the Goodland, Whiskey Hotel, Foxtail Kitchen & Bar, Tyger Tyger, Bluewater Grill, Boathouse, Valley Piggery, Happy Canyon Vineyard, Cebada and more.

Nearby, tucked inside the Pico Adobe House was the transformed Sazerac Midsummer Mardi Gras party, which served up an array of cocktails from premium brands, including Southern Comfort. The signature cocktails included the Wheatley Lucky Catch with Wheatley, simple syrup, lime juice and ginger ale; the Sazerac Cocktail with Herbsaint rinse, sugar cube, Peychaud’s bitters and Sazerac Rye; the Corazon Paloma with Corazon tequila mixed with Squirt and served with Tajin salt rim; the BT Old Fashioned with BT, Peychaud’s Bitters, sugar and lemon or orange twist; the Bourbon Cream Float with BT Cream served with root beer; and the Southern Comfort Collins with Southern Comfort 80 pf, lime juice and lemon lime soda.

“We love coming out to help children and the community at events like Fork Fest,” Destiny Hoerberg of M. Special Brewing told Noozhawk. “We hope everyone comes out to our Goleta brewery on Sept. 8 to celebrate our third anniversary.”

Another anniversary being shared was by Trinidad Garcia, designer of The Whiskey Hotel Trinidad clothing line. The company brought its shiny vintage trailer, which served as a showroom and shop for its unique collection of menswear. Garcia, a former Marine, was celebrating the 100th anniversary of his family of three generations coming to the United States.

Whiskey Hotel partner Samuel Quintana told Noozhawk: “Trinidad was a machine gunner in the Marines. We say that he went from operating a machine gun to a sewing machine.”

A Fashion Institute of Design alumni, Garcia and some like-minded veterans started the menswear line that uses only American-made fabrics that are sewn into men’s clothing in Los Angeles. The company has hired a couple of veterans from Santa Barbara.

Autism Care Today has a special program called Autism Care Today for Military Families that works to improve awareness of effective autism services and provides financial assistance to military families to help defray out-of-pocket costs associated with autism treatments and other quality-of-life programs.

Since 2005, Autism Care Today has helped more than 1,400 families and has distributed more than $1.65 million in grants through some of these programs: Autism Care Today Awareness Program, Safety Today!, Applied Behavioral Analysis, Assistive Technologies Program, Medical Help Today!, Special Needs Summer School, Social Skills Learning Program, Autism Care Today for Military Families and Autism Care Today Español.

For more information about autism research and programs, call 818.340.4010.

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