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‘Mad Men,’ 1960s highlights Symphony’s Grapes & Escapes fundraiser

If the winter doldrums and cabin fever are driving you mad, there’s a getaway destination in Springfield that can transport you to places past, present and future.

Grapes & Escapes, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s annual fundraiser, will offer wine- and beer-tasting, fine dining, live music and the chance to bid on a variety of travel packages in a unique atmosphere.

The event will be 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Reservations are limited and must be received by Friday, Jan. 24.

The theme for this year is the series “Mad Men” and the 1960s. Paul Valente, event co-chair with Mark Stephenson, got the inspiration from a similar-themed event at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

“With this theme you can come dressed as you want, from a business suit with a thin tie to looking like somebody on “Mad Men,” to how you looked in the sixties to how you’d like to have looked in the sixties.”

The festivities will begin with the wine- and beer-tasting in the Arts Center lobby, as well as water-tasting as a third option, with hors d’ oeuvres and music by the Jazz Arts Trio.

Dinner, catered by Seasons Bistro and Grill, will follow on the main stage in the Kuss Auditorium. Valente said the stage lighting along with table decorations and videos of ‘60s icons and events will enhance the ambience, jokingly adding the food will definitely not be a ‘60s favorite, the TV dinner.

An open bar, also with a ‘60s flavor, featuring martinis, manhattans, gimlets and pink squirrels, beer and soft drinks will be offered during dinner.

The excitement heats up with the live auction of nearly 20 great escapes. These will range from one-night trips to international travel to the best of Springfield.

“The point of these trips is to have something for everybody,” Valente said.

Golf packages, a stock care experience, trips out west in California and Arizona and even Barcelona, Spain are among the offerings.

One package Valente is particularly excited about is The Big Ticket, with 16 separate sets of tickets focusing on the best of Springfield and the state. “Anything you can get a ticket to in this town we’ll have a ticket for,” he said.

From sports like Wittenberg athletics, Ohio State football and the Dayton Dragons to the Springfield Museum of Art , Fair at New Boston and Springfield Symphony, and more.

Details of the various packages, including value and minimum bid, are available on the Symphony web site,

The evening will continue with dancing and live music by the Street Players, popular at previous events, performing ‘60s era favorites.

Robin Zimmann, Springfield Symphony Orchestra Executive Director, said Grapes & Escapes proceeds help offset operating expenses.

“Ticket sales only cover 35 percent of our budget,” she said. “Fundraisers like this along with donations and grants from individuals and businesses enable to put great symphonic music on the stage.”

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