Tuscan Moon

From an outsider’s perspective, Ellicottville seems like it wants for nothing. A bustling, vibrant village complements two dynamic ski resorts. You drive by beautiful homes and massive condominium complexes that line the streets and hills. On the surface, it’s paradise found. 
But like most American towns and cities, there lies struggle. Think about it this way: in 2015-16, Ellicottville suffered its worst winter on record. This is a ski town, and when the skiers don’t come, things get tough. A business has the ability to absorb a bad year and forge on. An employee of said business may not be so lucky. There is a direct, significant impact on families in the area when the snow doesn’t fly, which is why the work of The Rotary Club of Ellicottville is so critical. 

On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Rotary will host its annual Tuscan Moon fundraiser at Holiday Valley’s Cabana Bar - an event where 100% of the proceeds go directly back into the local community. A gourmet dinner party that features dishes from 13 local restaurants across 16 food stations … it’s a night out with a feel-good vibe. 

“The event has evolved quite a bit since the first year,” Rotary President Greg Cappelli said. “It started as a golf tournament with dinner. But hosting a golf tournament is a tough way to make money, and we wanted an event that would help us raise the most money possible. So from there, we’ve had just the dinner. And it’s been a resounding success year after year.” 
 
No one involved takes a cut of the proceeds. The raw materials, donated by US Foods, Sysco and Curtze, are prepared - for free - by the participating restaurants. And since the event is on a Saturday night (which makes it tough for the restaurants to staff it), students from ECS serve it. A complete community effort. 

“We’re expecting 25-30 seniors this year to help out, and we know that they fight to volunteer,” Cappelli said. “And Holiday Valley’s Food & Beverage often hires them back for the summer and beyond. So the trickle down effect this event has on the community continues.”

With a $65 ticket, you can expect things like crab-stuffed artichokes from Katy’s; risotto bites from Villaggio; brick oven pizza from Monroe St. Brick & Brew; Tuscan smoked pork from the Silver Fox; seafood lasagna from Myer’s Steakhouse; Eggplant parmesan from EBC; chicken marsala from The Birdwalk; parmesan encrusted zucchini from the Gin Mill; veal canneloni from Dina’s; deep fried ravioli from Ilio DiPaolo’s; a hand-carved beef station from John Harvard’s Brew House. Oh, and much more, including a dessert table filled with hazelnut gelato, Watson’s chocolates, and Tom Kneeland’s 20-foot “table of joy”.

To grasp the enormity of the impact the Rotary has on the community, you need only look to the Ellicottville Memorial Library, where it sponsors summer reading programs. Or Santa’s Workshop, where they ensure kids have something from Santa under the tree. You can see it in the Arts in Education Program at Essex Art Center, or providing school supplies, or four $500 scholarships every year. It is an organization that continues to do the proverbial heavy lifting for the community but wants none of the recognition. 

Since Tuscan Moon started, the Rotary has raised - and pumped back into the community - more than $75,000. An incredibly impressive figure that’s a true testament to the giving power of the Ellicottville area. 

“The things that we need to pay for (in regards to the Rotary) comes out of member dues,” Cappelli said. “100% of the money we raise goes back into the area. There are only nine members. But the work we put in is worth it when you see the fruits of the labor. We see the results and understand the dynamic. We’re privileged to be a part of something like this.” 

Tuscan Moon will shine down on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Holiday Valley’s Cabana Bar. Michael Nugent will return to perform live music, and there will be both live and silent auctions. Tickets are available through the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce or you can call 716-699-8758.
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