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A Taste of Ashland goes virtual this weekend

If you’re a fan of the annual arts celebration, A Taste of Ashland, you won’t have to gas up the car or search for a parking space this year.

In 2020, A Taste of Ashland will observe its 31st year with a virtual celebration because of the pandemic. The art, food and wine event will go online via Zoom Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 29-30, with special events livestreaming from noon to 2 p.m. each day.

Most of Ashland’s galleries are now open as well, some with pre-pandemic hours, some with limited hours, and others by appointment only. However, the annual celebration, because of the mix of art, food and beverages, will not be held in brick-and-mortar venues this year.

A ticket costs $55, which entitles the holder to a limited-edition coloring book, access to the virtual events, and four raffle tickets for chances to win dozens of gifts donated by A Taste of Ashland partners.

The coloring book, created by event coordinator Jason Nelson and artist Sarah Burns, includes art provided by more than a dozen local artists who created pages especially for the event.

The virtual event on Zoom will take ticket-holders on gallery tours and feature a chef demo from a Neuman Hotel Group executive chef, a cocktail demo from a Mezcal mixologist, and a drawing demo by featured artist Jeanne LaRae.

Raffle prizes include overnight stays, dining certificates, bottles of wine, Rogue Creamery certificates and art.

Additional coloring books can be purchased for $25 each, and additional raffle tickets are $10 each.

To buy tickets, go to atasteofashland.com, click on the menu button, and then click on “Buy Tickets.”

Foodies, wine connoisseurs and art lovers from near and far are in for a weekend of art, food and fun — as usual. But because of the pandemic, organizers decided to forego masking up and physical distancing in favor of a more relaxed — and safer—at-home experience for the 31st edition.

“The coloring book is a great way to escape and decompress,” Nelson said. “Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea and relax and unwind. Be as neat or as messy as you like and enjoy this wonderful collaboration between you and our artists.”

Featured artist LaRae was born in Utah and lived in the Midwest and Northern California. Today, she resides in Southern Oregon, surrounded by vineyards. She is involved in several art associations — Jacksonville’s Art Presence art center, Ashland Art Center, Rogue Gallery and many others.

LaRae says she has been an artist since the day a crayon was put into her hand. Along the way, during her 36-year career, she has won many awards for her work. Ticket-holders will have an opportunity to meet her when she demonstrates the art of drawing during a Zoom session.

Event sponsors are Jefferson Public Radio, Southern Oregon Public Television and Travel Ashland/Ashland Chamber of Commerce.

Proceeds benefit the Ashland Gallery Association, a consortium of more than 30 galleries and dozens of artists.

Ashland has been designated as one of the best small arts towns in America. And while Ashland’s most famous arts organization is the award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, visitors also enjoy the city’s galleries, finding them remarkably diverse and user-friendly, with most of them located within just a few blocks of each other.

This weekend, they’ll be even closer for a few hours when A Taste of Ashland launches its first virtual celebration.

You can reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

Artist Denise Kester contributed this drawing to the A Taste of Ashland coloring book. Courtesy Photo