Cork N’ Fork: Raising glasses while raising funds

Photo by Ashley Loza / Kern Valley Sun Dawn Jordan, left, and Elise Modrovich, right, co-owners of Starlite Lounge, share a bottle of wine at the annual Cork n’ Fork Food and Wine Festival. The event raised more than double the prevouis year’s money with a grand total $8,170. Nearly $7,000 was donated to the annual firework display put on by the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

By Ashley Loza
Kern Valley Sun

Starlite Lounge came out swinging with the third annual Cork N Fork Food and Wine Festival on Saturday, November 3.

This year, rather than making use of Starlite’s parking area, the event expanded to nearby Rivernook Campground in Kernville. This year’s event raised a total of $8,170, with a promise of $1,400 going to Keepers of the Kern, and the remaining $6,770 headed to the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual Fireworks Extravaganza.

The future of the fireworks show has been tenuous because of the rising cost, and Starlite Lounge co-owners Elise Modrovich and Dawn Jordan felt that they could use Cork N Fork this year to help offset that cost.

“We are economically depressed, and our community needs this,” said Modrovich. “This affects everyone in our valley.”

At first, Modrovich and Jordan were unsure what attendance would look like.

“I was getting really nervous because the presales were not what we thought they were going to be,” said Modrovich.

But last minute buyers nearly doubled the attendance of last year’s event, and Modrovich and Jordan said that they believed media pre-coverage of the event from here to Bakersfield had helped.

Although the event is in its third year, Modrovich says that planning was still hectic because there were new concerns to face – including an incident with a vendor that led Modrovich and Jordan to believe they might not have enough wine for the event.

But it all worked out in the end. “We’ve had more wine than we’ve ever had before,” said Modrovich.

The generosity of the vendors helped, as well. Rivernook donated tables, canopies, staff, stage and water, all of which subtracted from the event’s total cost. United Rentals came through with a generator, allowing the event’s bands, Kern River Band, Out of the Blue, and Treacherous Edges, to play uninterrupted. The bands also donated their time.

Modrovich and Jordan also extended thanks to their various volunteers, Chris Peaslee for handling all of the event’s graphics, their mother, Kathleen Creighton-Fuchs, for her generous donations, Sierra Gateway Market for ice, and Whitewater Voyages for their ice chest.

“Nobody wants to drink warm wine,” noted Jordan.

Of course, Modrovich and Jordan could not give enough thanks to the multiple wineries that made their way to the Kern River Valley and to the valley’s food vendors: Ewing’s on the Kern, El Rio Mexican & American Grill, Fremont Deli, Kern River Brewing Company, Lino’s Greenhorn Grill, Cheryl’s Diner, Paradise Cove Lodge, Pizza Barn, Primo’s Liquor and Deli, and Big Blue Bear.

“Thanks to everybody for coming out, supporting, participating,” said Modrovich. “We had selfless volunteers show up.”

Photo by Ashley Loza / Kern Valley Sun Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce Secretary, Fred Clark, and Ron Smith man the donation table at Cork N’ Fork on Saturday, November 3 at Rivernook Campground. Proceeds from this year’s event went towards the annual fireworks display.