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TONIGHT: Taste of the Lakes in Excelsior

Food, wine, music and auctions will benefit two local non-profits trying to make a difference in the Lake Minnetonka area.

This year’s 12th Annual Taste of the Lakes event at the Bayview Event Center in Excelsior will benefit the Intercongregation Communities Association (ICA) Foodshelf and the Western Communities Action Network, Inc. (WeCAN).

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. tonight, participants can sample food from a variety of restaurants, such as Bayside Grille and Maynards, as well as wine from Southern Wine & Spirits. The event includes a silent and live auction and, of course, music. Festivities are scheduled to wrap up around 10:30 p.m.

Cathy Maes, Executive Director of ICA Foodshelf, described the event as a way to “celebrate our community.”

Leah Weycker, Executive Director of WeCAN, said Taste of the Lakes also helps raise awareness that there are organizations doing this type of work in the Lake Minnetonka area.

"We rely on the community to help us,” Weycker said.

Last year was WeCAN’s first year participating in Taste of the Lakes, and they raised $1,200. This year WeCAN expects to raise more, in part due to their items in the silent auction. A sneak peek—tickets to a Packers vs. Vikings game at historic Lambeau Field, dinner at a restaurant and hotel stay.

WeCAN provides a number of emergency services, including rent and mortgage help, utilities, gas cards, food cards, and providing assistance to those looking for a job. Last month alone WeCAN spent over $650 in gas cards, but due to finances now have to limit how much a person can receive a month. September was also a busy month, with over 200 area kids receiving back-to-school assistance.

This will be ICA Foodshelf’s third year participating in Taste of the Lakes, and the have typically made between $10,000 and $12,000.

“Funds are really important because we have to purchase our food,” Maes explained.

Community contributions have become even more important in recent years, as the ICA Foodshelf has seen an 85 percent increase since 2008 in the number of people served. Services offered include groceries, assistance with rent or utilities, job help and referrals to other services.

“We’re seeing people who have come here for the first time, who are humbled and grateful,” Maes said. “They’re amazed at the amount of food that we can offer them.

Advance tickets for the event are $30 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under. You can buy tickets through the BayView Event Center website or call (952) 470-8439.

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