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Open Wide: Tasty Fundraiser Returns to Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – Explore Westport through your taste buds Thursday night at the eighth-annual Taste of Westport food and drink event organized by CLASP Homes , a town-based nonprofit that serves people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

At least 25 vendors will be on hand at the Westport Inn from 6 to 9 p.m. serving up samples of their products. Guests can taste everything from fresh oysters and clams from Norm Bloom & Son, to handmade pies from Michele’s Pies. There will also be wine, beer and tequila on tap, said Robin Hammond, development director at CLASP.

“You can eat and drink all you want to the point where you have to be rolled out,” Hammond joked. “And it’s for such a good cause. Every dollar goes to support CLASP programs.”

Westport restaurants headlining the event include Blue Lemon, Bobby Q’s, DaPietro’s, Matsu Sushi, River House, Rizzuto’s, Tarantino’s and Tavern on Main. Michele’s Pies and CakeSuite will be providing sweet treats. Michele Stuart, owner of Michele’s Pies, will also be selling and autographing copies of her new book, “Perfect Pies.”

Area restaurants such as Fairfield’s 55 Wine Bar & Restaurant and Rowayton Seafood are among the event’s newest additions.

In the drinks department, Hammond said three vendors will be offering wine. Also new this year will be Tito’s Vodka, Espolon Tequila and Beaver Beer — a company started by three Westporters.

The event will also include a variety of silent auction items. Some items up for bid will include a football signed by Tim Tebow, a Long Wharf Theatre subscription, skybox seats to a sold-out Cirque du Soleil performance, sports tickets and a behind-the-scenes look at the “Chaz and AJ in the Morning” show on WPLR.

“We have a lot of cool things going up for auction,” Hammond said.

This year’s event also coincides with the 30th anniversary of CLASP Homes, said Tracy Flood, president of the nonprofit.

When CLASP was founded, it served about six people in one group home. Today, Flood said the organization serves about 80 people through 12 group homes and nine apartments.

The Taste of Westport is the agency’s biggest fundraiser, she said, adding that the nonprofit receives limited funding from the state.

“The last several years have extremely tight for us,” Flood said. “But things were tight even before the economy declined because there’s just not enough funding to go around for the growing numbers of people who need support.”

Tickets are $80 at the door or $75 when purchased in advance. For tickets, call Hammond at 203-226-7895, Ext. 144. The Westport Inn is located at 1595 Post Road E.

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