When Ray and Kim McCloskey first took the idea of having a wine festival fundraiser to the board of the Gallitzin Sportsmen's Club, there were some doubts.
"The first year, when they brought it to us, everyone said that they were nuts, that it was a beer-drinking community," said Patti Duron, the club secretary.
"I got some strange looks and some doubts that this thing would fly," Ray McCloskey said, with a chuckle.
This photo from the Gallitzin Sportsmen’s Club’s Wine Fest last year shows winery displays, as well as vendor tables.
Luckily, the club was convinced of the idea's merit. The Gallitzin Sportsmen's Wine Fest, now in its third year, has become one of the club's largest events, according to Duron.
"It's an excellent fundraiser," she said. "We've really begun to show the importance of the fundraiser, that it's a big fundraiser for the club."
"[The success] surprised a lot of people in our club," Kim McCloskey said.
If you go
What: The Gallitzin Sportsmen's' Club's Wine Fest
When: 1 to 4 p.m. or 5 to 8 p.m. May 3
Where: Gallitzin Sportsmen's Club, 71 McCoy Road, Gallitzin
Admission: $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling Ray McCloskey at 886-2739 or in person at the club from 7 to 11 p.m. daily.
This year's Wine Fest will be held in two sessions - from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. - on May 3 at the Sportsmen's Club, 71 McCoy Road in Gallitzin. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Each ticket includes a souvenir wine glass for tastings. Entertainment will be provided by the band RPT during the first session and the band Tree during the second session.
The six wineries that will be exhibiting at the Wine Fest are:
* Allegheny Cellars Winery, Sheffield
* B&L Wine Cellars, Johnstown
* Starr Hill Winery, Curwensville
* Walnut Hill Winery, Blairsville
* Wapiti Ridge Wine Cellars, DuBois
* Woody Lodge Winery, Ashville
All the wineries, except for B&L Wine Cellars, are part of the Groundhog Wine Trail group. The Wine Fest will also feature vendors, basket raffles and food sales. Attendees will be able to purchase wine by the glass or by the bottle.
The McCloskeys, residents of Gallitzin, came up with the idea of the wine festival after attending a similar event and seeing how successful it was. It soon proved to be a success for the Sportsmen's Club, as well.
"We had probably 180 [attendees] the first year, but last year it doubled," Kim McCloskey said. "This year we expect up to 400 or so. The ticket sales are going really well."
That first year proved the event's merit to Duron.
"It was a beautiful day," she said. "People would buy bottles of wine and then take it outside to drink and come back in."
The Gallitzin Sportsmen's Club has about 500 members, both junior and adult members, Duron said. But the event attracts people from far beyond that circle.
"We have got several people who used to live in the area and heard about it and came back just for the wine festival," Ray McCloskey said. "I know of someone who comes from Maryland and I know of a group of people who come from Delaware."
But the club members have as much fun as anyone.
"My husband is a past president and I'm the club secretary," Duron said. "We work at one session and attend another, and it's just as fun to work it as it is to attend."
Now, if only the event's organizers could attend. When asked if they get to enjoy the event much, the McCloskeys both started laughing.
"We try to enjoy, but we're usually so busy we don't get to go," Ray said.
That's OK, though, said his wife.
"We're just happy to see it grow," Kim said.
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.