Thursday, Oct. 11, marked the night of one of Siena’s largest annual fundraisers, Festa Vino. It truly was an entertaining evening of food, wine and good friends. 40 wine and food local vendors from the Capital Region surrounded the inside walls. The Callanan Fieldhouse of Siena’s Marcelle Athletic Complex (MAC) had transformed from a sporty, active venue, to a dimly lit, elegant aroma of green and gold. Students (over 21), faculty, friars, coaches, staff and administrators, as well as alumni, trustees, board of advisors, parents and donors, including members of the Annual Fund President’s Circle, and the President of the College himself, enjoyed their experience.
Each guest received a custom Siena College logoed wine glass and appetizer plate. The student-athletes working the event were pleased at the high attendance, as half of the event’s proceeds support them through the Saints Alive! Athletic fund. The remaining proceeds will go towards campus programs in need of additional funding. All of the wine vendors served wine that is sold at All Star Wine and Spirits, which is owned by Craig Allen ’91. A new vendor emerged this year, Fort Orange Brewing Company, co-owned by Siena Associate Director of Admissions Jim Eaton. Trustee John Murray ’79 and his company, Rose and Kiernan, Inc., have been one of the presenting sponsors of the event since its inception in 2000. It was exciting to see so many people who care for Siena in the same room at the same time. As a senior, I am sure I will be back for next year’s event.
Walking from vendor to vendor, sampling the wines and hors d’oeuvres, I was able to connect with old friends who had graduated, Siena faculty and fellow classmates as well. Justin Gaines ’19, our Student Senate President, stated, “This night provides a unique networking opportunity for Siena students and graduates looking to start or advance their careers.” His statement could not have been more correct; seniors who are looking for jobs post-graduation had the chance to connect with local businesses and employers and truly get their name out there. Returning graduates were able to share their stories with other alumni, staff, and community members. Other graduates who are now working at Siena mentioned how effective the event is at connecting all graduates back together in the place they once called home. Bumping into Brother Ed, the President of Siena College, was a highlight of the night. He described Festa Vino as “the official opening of the fall season,” and he truly enjoys how many people come together to support campus programs and athletics.
As this event was marketed to thousands of friends of Siena, parents and alumni, through social media, invitations and the website, a lot of prep work was put into the night to make it outstanding. It could not have been done without the sincere help of Siena Fresh (AVI), Siena Facilities, Public Safety, the Creative Arts Department, WVCR The Saint, student athletic teams coordinated by Ryan Venter and Heidi Speer, and of course Diane Benson ’10, Eileen Verno ’12, and the team from the Development and External Affairs Office. Diane, the Development Event Director, admitted that Festa Vino is her favorite event that she organizes. Congratulations Diane and Eileen; the night was spectacular!