It’s baaaaccckkk! The jolliest soirée this side of the nuthouse! ILM Lampoon’s 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas will come to the Brooklyn Arts Center on December 13 at 6 p.m. Folks will taste their way through two dozen or more local drinkeries and eateries, pairing the best of bites and sips this season!
Around five or so years ago, a dear friend, Nina Cournoyer, launched 12 Tastes of Christmas with Katherine Clark as a fundraiser for the Cape Fear Literacy Council. It became an instant holiday hit, and the ladies continued hosting it at BAC for four years. Then Nina got a boss lady job in LA in the summer of 2017 and moved, while Katherine Clark’s photography business took off locally. And, so, the event came to a halt and was skipped last Christmas to much dismay from locals.
Enter July 2018. I reached out to Nina and the literacy council for permission for encore to pick up the event and move it forward with DREAMS of Wilmington as the beneficiary. With their blessing, encore is happy to relaunch it so folks can get a taste of everything local restaurants, bars and sip shops have to offer.
In the style of our magazine’s focus on arts and entertainment, we settled on a theme quite appropriate to ILM’s quirky output: ILM Lampoon’s 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas. What does that mean, exactly? Well, participants should come decked out in their favorite “Christmas Vacation” gear, like matching Margo and Todd silver track suits or even a three-piece blue suit that would make Cousin Eddie grin from ear to ear. We will award prizes to Best Dressed Female and Male who fit the theme.
But, really, it’s all about the food, the drinks and local businesses supporting charity. This year we have added more than 12 participants to the lineup. New brewery Edward Teach will pour their Winter Fest lager (with notes of vanilla bean) to match another newbie in town, Skytown BBQ’s brisket chili. And yet another newcomer, Crust, will serve up a warm fennel apple brandy cider with Bill’s Front Porch pepperoni rolls. Waterline Brewery is preparing a coffee-and-cream brew to go with a trio of Wake n Bake donuts, including egg nog and cinnamon spice, salted-cayenne-caramel pecan and chocolate smoke. Palate Bottle Shop and Reserve will appeal to beer lovers with their Christmas Bomb Imperial Stout, while wine lovers can enjoy a few bubbles with a Mas Fi Cava to go with Nothing Bundt Cakes’ peppermint chocolate-chip bundts. Steam will plate Kalbi-style braised short ribs, smoked blue cheese polenta and ginger-scallion reduction with a specialty pomegranate drink from Dram + Morsel. Blind Elephant are going island-style with a Russ’ Spicy Rumcation (Cruzan black strap rum, red chile, cinnamon, and pineapple) and a noche buena Cubano (Cuban sandwich with mango sauce) from Sweet n Savory.
And that’s just a small taste of decadence served. Other flavors aplenty will come from Pine Valley Market, Island Beverage, Zocalo, Board and Barrel, YoSake, Flytrap Brewing, Anne Bonnys, Husk, Greenline Pizza, Watermans, Boombalatti’s, Wilmington Brewing Company, Cravings, Casablanca Coffee, Little Dipper, Tap Tea, TheatreNOW, New Anthem Beer Project, and Flying Machine Brewing Company.
Aside from eating and drinking through the BAC and adjoining Annex, carolers, including UNCW’s Seabelles, will perform a cappella throughout the evening. A bevy of local musicians and theatre folks will join the fun, too.Cozy living room sets from Martha My Dear will be set up in both rooms for folks to take a seat and even watch a few scenes from Chevy Chase’s iconic holiday film, and catch many of the funniest moments the dysfunctional family has to offer.
(Like our personal favorite, “Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.)
Attendees will cast their votes for Best Bite, Best Sip and Best Decorated Booth. Voting will commence upon arrival and stop at 8 p.m., with winners announced at 8:30 p.m.
Though the gorging of the feast and voting is all part of the fun for the evening, it isn’t without a cause backing it. DREAMS of Wilmington took a hit from Hurricane Florence in September and sustained major water damage. The vast majority of their soft goods, like rugs, fabric chairs, furniture, costumes, etc., all will need to be replaced. Thus, its campus shuttered, with renovations currently underway. The community has come to their aid, as Grace United Methodist Church on Grace Street is allowing them a space to hold classes in the meantime.
“Grace UMC has truly been a lifesaver for us, and they’ve been the critical element in keeping our DREAMers engaged in the arts they love and need,” says executive director Kevin Blackburn, who officially was promoted to the top-tier position at DREAMS last week. Blackburn started at the nonprofit in 2013 as program coordinator, and went on to serve as associate director and then interim director after Matt Carvin resigned in the spring.
“It’s been an honor to serve DREAMS in these roles,” Blackburn says. “Throughout tough times, our staff has remained steadfast in their dedication to serving our DREAMers.”
Currently, they consist of program director Ashley Bethea, program coordinators Lauren Hurley and Jamie La-Londe Pinkston, master gardener Mike Johnson, and operations manager Amy Jeffrey. “We also are grateful to still have every one of our amazing teaching artists, whose flexibility and commitment to DREAMS has been indispensable in keeping us going through these past few months,” Blackburn continues
Their campus at 901 Fanning Street is slated to reopen in January for the spring semester. Here, they teach everything from music to dance, visual arts to jewelry making, comicbook drawing and storytelling, to fashion design, digital media and more.
“My vision for the future of DREAMS is to deepen and expand our service to Wilmington’s youth and teens in need,” Blackburn continues. “We’ll do this through our artistic and creative youth development in a safe and supportive environment. We have unique and innovative plans for 2019.”
Proceeds from 12 Tastes will help fund outreach efforts, field trips, program supplies, and DREAMS’ future “Learning Kitchen.” Aside from partial proceeds from 12 Tastes ticket sales, DREAMS has received sponsorship donations from Modern Legend, Don Bullard Insurance, Tay Lifestyle Management, The Element at Barclay, Yelp, Orange Theory, and Summit Logistics. Plus, they will get raffle monies. At 12 Tastes, DREAMS will sell wares created by its students, which will be sold in the lobby at Brooklyn Arts Center during 12 Tastes.
As well, encore is focusing 2019 to helping the organization even more, with a goal of raising at least $25,000 across three more events. DREAMS’ dedication to offer arts classes for children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds hits home to encore’s mission of elevating artists and the arts in our area. Not only will we be continuing the 12 Tastes tradition in 2019, we will be hosting our annual Best Of 2019 party as an all-day beer festival and arts and crafts fair at Waterline in April 2019. Then, we will put on a Second Chance Prom for Best Of winners and runners-up and the community at large, with proceeds benefiting DREAMS.
For now, it’s still 2018—and a ticket to 12 Tastes means a ticket for a child’s imagination and DREAMS to soar. VIP tickets ($75) come with a T-shirt and early entry by one hour to avoid lines, with limited supplies available. General admission tickets ($50) also are available. Tickets go up by $10 the day of the event.