Featuring an array of delectable hors d’oeuvres, drinks and desserts from about 20 local purveyors, the 12th annual A Sweet Affaire lived up to its name. Equally appetizing, however, was the fundraiser’s end goal: to enrich the lives of community members, young and old, with access to positive recreation activities.
The event, held Sunday at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center, is presented annually by the Sunset Park and Recreation Foundation and Seaside Rotary Foundation to benefit their various scholarship and other programs that directly impact those living in the area.
“I’m definitely pro-recreation and everything the park district provides,” said Ashley Flukinger, chair of the recreation foundation. “I think it’s just the holistic approach to it — the preschool, and the classes for elderly, and things like that, too — that’s what’s most important: getting people out and active.”
Because Seaside is “a pretty low-income community,” it can be a struggle for some community member to access the district’s programs — from swimming lessons and preschool aftercare to senior activities, fitness classes, and art enrichment — without the scholarships, she said.
Additionally, A Sweet Affaire is an opportunity for the participating restaurants and establishments to showcase a dish that represents their flavors and style, such as Sisu Beer’s honey orange lager, chocolate treat from Phillips Candies, and the Wayfarer Restaurant’s tørkes oysters with a hot sauce made in-house.
“It’s sort of nice for them, too, to get their name out in the community,” Flukinger said. “It’s also a great way for the community to mingle and see what’s out there, as well.”
For the businesses, however, contributing to a community event that raises money to provide local families with gifts for the holidays, award high school students college scholarships and give locals access to recreational activities is motivation enough.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer,” said Chris Holen, chef and proprietor of Baked Alaska in Astoria, as he served miniature grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup with his daughter, Anaise. “We want to contribute to the community we live in.”
Anaise Holen was excited to participate this year, even waking up earlier that day to help bake the sourdough bread for the sandwiches. As a young student, she said she appreciates the idea of volunteering at an event that benefits other kids.
For Josh Archibald, executive chef of the Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge, the event is family-driven in another way, as his brother Skyler Archibald is director of the Sunset Empire Park & Recreation District, his father Lynn Archibald provided live piano music, and other family members were also involved. In general, though, the restaurant prioritizes participation in community fundraisers and tries “to do as many as we possibly can,” Josh Archibald said.
He also appreciates the opportunity to be out in front and interacting directly with the public for a change.
“Events like these are sometimes the best way for me to do that,” he said.
Throughout the afternoon, guests dined on the many delicacies while bidding on prizes in both live and silent auctions and participating in a drawing for a weekend getaway to San Francisco.
According to executive director Skyler Archibald, the district, which was established 50 years ago to bring a pool to Seaside, has “done that and more.” Over the years, the foundation has raised more than $100,000, primarily from A Sweet Affaire, and nearly 200 scholarships were awarded to community members in 2018.