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South Beach Wine and Food Fest part 1

Thousands of hungry and thirsty people descend on Miami the last weekend in February to experience the best that the culinary and fine wine worlds have to offer during 2010 Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival. With 175 cooking personalities participating in 38 events from February 25-28, this year’s SBWFF is not seeing any effects of an economy that most agree is still recovering from a recession.

“We still have a demand for tickets in this tough economic climate,” said Lee Brian Schrager, Southern Wine and Spirits of America’s Vice President of Corporate Communications and National Events and the Director and Founder of the festival. “Our sponsorship is on par with last year and our ticket sales are actually up.”

Indeed, only six of the nearly 40 events still have tickets remaining to purchase off the website sobefest.com. The tickets are such hot commodities, that even websites such as Craigslist and Go

Tickets have supplies, but for prices that are double or even triple the retail value.

What most people don’t realize is the festival is actually an elaborate fundraiser for Florida International University’s school of Hospitality and Tourism Management. In 2009, the festival donated $2.2 million to the school. That’s in stark contrast to the $63,000 the school earned in proceeds from the first festival in 2001. Now in it’s ninth year, FIU has received tens of millions of dollars from the sponsorships and ticket sale revenue from the events every year.

Not only is the SBWFF a great place to take your partner for an awe inspiring getaway, it’s a nice organization to support because of its GLBT friendly policies. Three of the top officials at the festival, Schrager, Associate Director Jaie Laplante, and Marketing Director Patrick Jong are openly-gay and ensure the weekend is inclusively fun for all.

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