FORESTVILLE - Mer-ritt Estate Winery will celebrate the arrival of this year's grape harvest with the 31st annual Septem-berfest. Each year, the winery teams up with an area athlete in an effort to raise money for charity. This year, Merritt will team up with Sabres Alumni and NHL Hall of Fame inductee Pat LaFontaine to raise money for the athlete's self-founded charity, Compan-ions in Courage.
Septemberfest will be held at Merritt Estate Winery in Forestville.
The event is free to attend and will be held on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
The Companions in Courage Foundation was founded as a way to help connect hospitalized children to their family, friends and heroes. Funding for the foundation goes toward the creation of interactive playrooms in hospitals throughout North America. These "Lion's Den" rooms use communication tools to help each child take their mind off of their sickness and regain their strength and courage. The foundation has expanded its reach to area hospitals including the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
A portion of the money raised from the parking lot bucket drive, auction and LaFontaine's commemorative wine bottle sales will go directly to the Compan-ions in Courage Foundation.
This is the second time that LaFontaine will visit the Dunkirk/Fredonia area this summer. The popular athlete attended Wreck and Roll on the pier in Dunkirk earlier this year. Many area natives paid a fee for an autograph signed by the Hall of Fame athlete. At this year's Septemberfest, attendees are encouraged to bring a single item for the hockey star to sign at no additional charge. Pictures of LaFontaine as well as commemorative wine bottles will be available for purchase at the event for autograph purposes.
"We are very excited to be working with Pat LaFontaine this year," said Jessi Luke, Public Relations and Promotions person for Merritt Estate Winery. "His heart is still very close to the Buffalo area, and it really shows through his charity work. Even though Companions in Courage has become a nationally recognized foundation, the positive effects of the organization really hit home when you think of all of the children it has helped in our Buffalo area hospitals alone."
Additional features of Septemberfest include a classic car and motorcycle cruise hosted by the Lakeshore Streetrod Association, free winery tours and wine tasting, craft vendors, a 2011 Chevy Camaro SS raffle, Chiavetta's barbecue chicken dinners and Merritt's famous Sangria Wine Slush. The festival will also feature live music from West of the Mark, Underground Stampede and a headline performance by Sean Patrick McGraw on Saturday with Side Effect with Gina V. and Black Widow playing on Sunday.
Festival sponsors for the 2011 Septemberfest include Media One Group, Dunkin' Donuts and Robert Basil Chevrolet of Fredonia.
For more information on Merritt news and events, visit www.merrittestatewinery.com or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/merrittwinery. For more information on the Companions in Courage Foundation, please visit www.cic16.org.
Merritt Estate is located in Lake Erie Wine Country, the largest grape growing region of New York State located along the shores of Lake Erie. The grapes and wines produced under Merritt rival the quality of premium vintages throughout the world.