By Mike Lauterborn
(For Fairfield Citizen News)
Fairfield, CT – Exquisite bottles of wine. Lavish spreads of food. A stately setting. So this is how business gets done in Fairfield.
On Thursday evening April 7, the annual installment of “The Spring Fling”, hosted by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, brought together area business representatives and local residents for networking and fun at the Burr Mansion, 739 Old Post Road. The event offered tasty foods provided by Fairfield restaurants Coromandel, Fairfield Café, Greenhouse Grill, Old Post Tavern and Vino & Mare on the Brickwalk, as well as fine wines from Greenfield Liquor Grapes and Hops.
Other event highlights included door prizes such as a “Men’s Party Package” with Sound Tiger tickets, a “Queen for the Day” spa package and a “Just Won the Lottery” offer with weekend use of a Mercedes Benz and gift certificate to Roger Sherman Inn. There were also dozens of silent auction items, ranging from retail gift offers and vacation getaways to gift baskets and sports tickets. Of course, what would an upscale gathering like this be without a live auction for a chance to hunt pheasant and have the captured quarry prepared gourmet style by DaPietro’s chef Pietro Scotti?
“We’ve been hosting this for 15 years,” said Patricia L. Ritchie, President and CEO of the Chamber, providing some background about the gathering. “It began humbly at Greenwich Workshop Gallery as a fundraiser for the Chamber, to help it market Fairfield small businesses. But it’s also a great networking event as well as a chance for people to sample wonderful food and wines.”
You might venture to call the event a five-alarm affair, given the appearance of the Fairfield Fire Dept. at the start of the evening. Firefighter Scott suggested the heat emanating from the food stations may have tripped a sensitive alarm. Ritchie had another idea, joking, “The event is such a hot ticket that even the fire department had to put in an appearance.”
Fairfielders Lisa McDonnell and China Ross were barely fazed, their attention focused on silent auction items. “I’m loving the Coach sunglasses and will probably bid on them,” said McDonnell.
For Melissa Tohill from Monroe and Daniela Kinsbourne from Ridgefield, the evening provided an excuse for a Girls’ Night Out. “We came to enjoy the food and wine,” said Tohill, “but it’s a great opportunity to support local businesses and meet some new people in the community at the same time.”
Abhay Colaco, a manager at Coromandel, was glad for the opportunity to showcase the restaurant. “This is good for the town and very good for our business, too, especially as we are new in the Southport area,” he said. “We hope to expose people to different flavors of India.”
Gary Adams of Bearingstar Insurance, one of the evening sponsors, had a similar take on the event. “Many people join the Chamber for different reasons – networking, benefits, etc. But regardless of motive, ultimately it’s to support the local community. It’s great, in this case, that the public gets to meet area business leaders.”
For Carla Cinti, the event was an opportunity to get a local foothold. “I’m newly relocated from California, re-entering the workforce after being home with my kids for nine years and am here to network and meet my new community. Hopefully I’ll find someone who will lead me to my next career.”
Jill Clarke had established a foothold two years ago, co-founding Mirth In a Box, which she described as “the anti-fruit basket company offering fun and unusual gift boxes.” She was hoping to make some new connections and raise awareness about the business and said the event is “a great way to interact, see old friends and meet some new faces.”
Many would depart with new contacts and business leads. Lee Passios would leave with a bit more when it was announced that her live auction bid was the topper. “I can’t wait to go out there with my slingshot and jelly beans to get that pheasant,” she laughed.