By: Ashley Waitkus | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: September 2018
The Tasting at Woodward Park is made possible by committee members for the event including Board President, Andy Zanovich, Wine Chairs Diane and Christopher Riley, Event Chair, Mary Fencl, Events Coordinator for the Mansion at Woodward Park Cristen Burdell, and Web Master Dylan Axsom (not pictured).
The hearts of generations of Tulsans have been captivated by the stunning beauty of Woodward Park. From childhood explorations to senior pictures to scenic weddings, the park offers something for every stage of life. The 70 year old Tulsa Garden Center, a non-profit headquartered in The Mansion at Woodward Park, works tirelessly to ensure Woodward Park, which includes the Tulsa Municipal Rose Gardens, Linnaeus Teaching Garden, The Mansion, surrounding gardens, and the park itself, continues to remain a Tulsa icon for decades to come. The Tulsa Garden Center provides environmental and horticultural education to Tulsans while partnering with the City of Tulsa to maintain and advocate for one of Tulsa’s most treasured locales.
One of Tulsa’s premier events, “An Evening of Wine and Roses”, was hosted by the Tulsa Garden Center each fall for over 20 years until 2016 when the Tulsa Garden Center took a year off to rebrand. While always a highly anticipated event, many attendees and community members did not realize the event served as one of the primary fundraisers for the park. Re-launched in 2017 as “The Tasting at Woodward Park”, Tulsa Garden Center President, Andy Zanovich, wants the public to know the unforgettable evening in the scenic setting goes far beyond the event itself. A capital campaign is currently underway to replace the roof on The Mansion and a $250,000 pavilion is being built on the top tier of the Rose Garden. The fundraising organization that is the Tulsa Garden Center partners with the City of Tulsa to bring the park to life and bring life and beauty to the community of Tulsa. “The Tasting at Woodward Park” committee chair, Mary Fencl, explains the relationship: “Tulsa Garden Center is the best advocate for the park.”
Each member of the committee has a different role to play in ensuring the event is an evening to remember while also raising funds for the park. Their roles vary, but each member shares a common experience that fuels their passion for the park: the sense of family and community the park cultivates. Events Coordinator for The Mansion at Woodward Park, Cristen Burdell, is passionate about the sense of community and family the park brings to Tulsa residents. Her favorite part of the evening is watching attendees truly enjoying themselves. She states the event “helps the park create connections.” It is a similar theme expressed by each member. Dylan Axsom manages social media for the Tulsa Garden Center remembers the role the park played in his childhood: “It has always been a part of my family and families all throughout Tulsa.” “The Tasting at Woodward Park” is about much more than a park. It’s about how the park creates community and how the Tulsa Garden Center makes it possible for families and communities to continue to build meaningful traditions in the scenic location. Former “Shakespeare in the Park” producers, Diane and Christopher Riley, now own two businesses and are using their influence and resources to give back to the organization. Their businesses, Warren Wine and Spirits and Riley’s Wine and Spirits at the Box Yard, are “more than just liquor stores,” Diane states, they are tools for building relationships and community within the city. The Riley’s are bringing the party to the event this year with a variety of upscale wines, more music, and, new to this year’s event, a beer tent. Local bands Basically Saxx and HHH will be offering live music; and over 20 restaurants and catering companies will be donating a variety of delectable foods.
Walking through the gorgeous garden under the stars, guests will find a variety of vendors offering something for every taste including The Bistro at Seville, Fountains Catering, Bonefish Grill, The Chalkboard, Warren Duck Club, JTR Group, The Vault, KEO Asian Cuisine, ROKA, TW’s AFAB Catering, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, Old School Bagel, CCD Catering, and McNellies. The enchanting September evening is designed to provide an opportunity for those in attendance to forge new connections with other businesses in the greater Tulsa Community.
Mary Fencl sums up the upcoming event as “truly a magical night in the garden” designed to delight patrons while raising funds to continue the vital work of the Tulsa Garden Center. A smaller, more intimate event this year, “The Tasting at Woodward Park” is an exclusive garden party offering limited tickets for the September 28th affair. Reservations are required for this 21 and over event. Tickets are $150 for members of the Tulsa Garden Center and $175 for non-members. The evening will kick off at 7 pm with food, wine, music, and dancing, and will end with a breathtaking fireworks display at 9:30PM. Attire for the evening will be elegant yet comfortable garden cocktail style. The Tulsa Garden Center’s website states “Proceeds from The Tasting at Woodward Park benefit the Tulsa Garden Center’s mission to provide horticultural and environmental education opportunities for the community and to serve as horticultural headquarters for the Tulsa area.
Ashley Waitkus is a former mental health counselor and minister who has served in high trauma, high crisis environments for over 12 years. She has a Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy; her passions include helping people heal, bringing others into a relationship with Christ, and attending festivals with her daughter.
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