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story.lead_photo.caption Shaun Zimmerman/News TribunePatrick Miller, right, serves Bryan Salmons samples of food from Sweet Chipotle on Monday during Cork Fork & Brews at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Cork Fork & Brews is an annual event that raises money for the Boys & Girls Club.

From pasta and cupcakes to wines and beer, people left Monday night's Cork Fork & Brews event content.

The event served as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City and is the program's largest fundraiser of the year.

"We really throw everything into one night and try to do everything we can that one night to really meet our mission," chief executive director Wade Middaugh said.

The funds raised at Cork Fork & Brews, typically around $150,000 annually, go toward scholarships for students in the program.

"We don't turn anybody away for an inability to pay," Middaugh said. "There's a lot of kids, almost 90 percent, that come to us for free or for $25 a semester. This money really keeps our doors open and allows us to continue to serve those kids."

Last year, the event couldn't happen because of COVID-19, but Middaugh said the club's sponsors still came through.

"It gave us a little bit of reprieve," he said. "But we're glad to be back here in person. It's awesome."

As part of the event, attendees can travel around the room and pick up samples from various area food and drink vendors.

Rylan Sisk, general manager of Smallcakes, said this is the company's third year participating and things mostly felt the same despite a year off.

"Not really a lot of change event wise," she said. "There's more social distancing in the line this year, tables are a little bit more spread out than they used to be, but everything seems to be going the same as always."

For Sisk, the event is an opportunity to give back to the community. Smallcakes donates leftover cupcakes at the end of the day, but Cork Fork & Brews is a way to give back to a bigger organization.

"Coming here and doing it for Boys & Girls Club, it goes to a much bigger organization than what we normally do," she said. "It's just our way of giving back to the community even more."

Patrick Miller, owner of Sweet Chipotte Catering, said Cork Fork & Brews is a way for him to give back to the children in the community.

"It's just a great organization to help give back to the community," he said.

Stephen Toenjes, sales rep for Bur Oak Brewery, said it seemed like everybody was ready to get out again.

"I think people were ready to get out and enjoy, just meeting and talking to people again, shaking hands," he said. "Really meeting people is the best part, forming relationships that you can have benefit from and help other people at the same time."

Tom Mohr, manager at Bandana's, said they want to invest in the health of the community, but that connection with other people is another big part of participating.

"You're helping out, but it's also a good way to get a good message out about our product and image," he said. "People saying, 'We love you, we love you' and we take some pride in it. That makes you feel good about all the work you do in the restaurant and it's good to get out in the community."

Along with food and drink vendors, the event also featured a silent and live auction with proceeds also going toward the Boys & Girls Club scholarships and programming.

"It warms your heart that even in the situation that we're in people are willing to come out and support kids in this community," Middaugh said. "It means everything."

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