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Cheese And Wine Festival To Shift Location
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Planning for the annual Riverbank Cheese and Wine Festival in October is moving full steam ahead, but it looks like extensive street construction in the downtown area will cause a slight shift in location this year.

During a presentation at the May 19 Riverbank City Council meeting, Chris Elswick of Riverbank Rotary and Suzi De Silva, the event planner for the Riverbank Cheese and Wine Festival, told the council that downtown construction will require the festival to move slightly this year.

According to De Silva, the festival's footprint will encompass Santa Fe Street from Fourth Street to Seventh Street. The Kid's Zone and Community Stage will be set up on Fifth Street, while the Community Center Park will host the Wine Tasting Garden and Cheese Pavilion this year.

De Silva said Community Center Park will be fenced off with a separate entrance fee, which she estimates will be two to four dollars. The rest of the Cheese and Wine Festival will remain free admission.

Elswick told the council the festival remains the Rotary's main fundraiser. She said club members, spouses of members, and other volunteers donated thousands of hours of labor and expertise, bringing in about $50,000 to the club last year.

Elswick said that out of that, Riverbank Rotary set aside starting capital for this year's festival, paid operating expenses, and funded numerous projects.

She provided a list of groups that received contributions and donations of approximately $25,000 from Riverbank Rotary, which included Friends of Jacob Myers Park, Riverbank Museum and Historical Society, Rio Arts, Riverbank Food Sharing, Casa Del Rio, Riverbank Federated Woman's Club, Modesto Women's Club, Elks Lodge of Modesto, Riverbank Teen Center Committee, ROTA, Riverbank Chamber of Commerce, Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors (STARS), Riverbank Business Association, Miss Riverbank Scholarship Fund, Modesto Police Explorers, RHS Band Boosters, Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance, RHS Student Association, and Crossroads Elementary School.

Elswick also provided a list of projects that Riverbank Rotary participated in. They included:

• Riverbank Rotary Club Members and Interact students participated in the Sam Jackson Action Day, picking up trash on both sides of Claus Road from Patterson to Claribel Road.

• Riverbank Rotary had two Christmas Projects this year: the first was to purchase and deliver gifts to the Riverbank Nursing Center, the second was to purchase and prepare food boxes for 20 local families. Twelve club members participated in boxing up the food, and the club spent a total of $2000 on those two projects.

• Riverbank Rotary was a $1000 event sponsor for the Riverbank Relay for Life, in which they also had a team participating.

• Received a matching grant from Rotary International to again purchase medical equipment for an under funded hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

• Purchased wheelchairs for two children in Guatemala.

• Contributed $1,200 to the Oakdale Rotary Foundation as their partner on a Clean Water Project in Kenya.

• Sponsored a Cardozo Middle School student to attend the National Young Leaders State Conference in San Jose. This student has now been invited to attend the Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C., and Riverbank Rotary has contributed again to help her make this trip.

• Sent two RHS students to the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy, commonly referred to as Camp Royal.

• Held a Rotary speech contest in which three RHS students were awarded cash prizes for their participation.

• Launched an Interact Club at RHS.

• Held a Rotary Read In during the month of March, contributing $2500 in prizes to students, as well as volunteering time reading in the classrooms.

• Gave three RHS high school students scholarships totaling $4,500 at the Riverbank Community Awards Banquet, and also donated several hundred wine glasses for the event.

• For the second year Riverbank Rotary has received a District Simplified Grant to continue to improve upon on the Rotary's wheelchair accessible picnic area at Jacob Myers Park. Riverbank Rotary has several items on order that will be added to the area in June.

• Provided a $1,000 contribution to the Groveland Rotary Club for their Mexicali project. It's their 25th year of traveling to Mexicali and they perform medical, vision and dental exams, as well as helping to physically improve an orphanage and school with necessary maintenance and repairs. Two Riverbank Rotary club members traveled with approximately 40 other people from various service organizations to work on this project.