The 200 Club of Bergen County to host festival at Westfield Garden State Plaza

 You hear about them all the time: food festivals – a food tasting here and a splash of beer there. What do all of these have in common? We always have to head out of the confines of beautiful Bergen County to attend them. Well, The 200 Club of Bergen County is about to change all of that.

For those unaware, The 200 Club was created over 40 years ago when a Detroit business man who got a group of people together to each donate $200 to the family of a young police officer who was fatally wounded in the line of duty.

Each independent of one another, influential businessman J. Fletcher Creamer Sr. in 1985, when he personally signed up the first 80 members, then later created The 200 Club of Bergen County. Now, the 200 Club of Bergen County stands as one of the largest clubs throughout the nation, and year-after-year the organization raises funds to support our police, fire and emergency services as well as their families.

While the 200 Club of Bergen County continues to impressively raise funds consistently, they realized that more often than not, they were tapping the same sources and not garnering new interest in the club. With a name that doesn’t explain the organizations mission statement, they were looking for not just a new fundraising venture but one that would help spread their name across Bergen County.

Coincidentally, around that same time, Sharon and Steven Goldstein, publishers of BC the Magazine, approached The 200 Club with an idea they had hatched up a few months before: the idea of creating Bergen County’s own food and wine festival. While presenting the idea in front of The 200 Club of Bergen County’s President Jack Terhune and Board Members Joseph Parisi and Richard Hubschman, the group realized that this was going to be an opportunity to shine a bright light on the many great things the 200 Club of Bergen County has been doing. It was the “aha” moment that perfectly paired one of Bergen County’s premiere magazines with one if its many incredible charitable organizations to create a community event Bergen County has never seen. The First Annual Bergen County Food & Wine Festival was born.

Why should every other city or cultural hub throughout the country host their own celebrations of their culinary achievements while nobody is showcasing the incredible restaurants of Bergen County? As they sat around the boardroom table at The 200 Club headquarters, this was the discussion. But the first question on everyone’s mind was: Where can we host it?

Through a great partnership with Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, that question was quickly answered. As the executive team at Bergen County’s most iconic mall heard the pitch, they immediately green-lighted the project on the spot. That’s when the group from BC the Mag and The 200 Club of BC knew they were onto something special.

The Dream Was Born

This Sept. 16 and 17, within a blocked off and tented section of Westfield Garden State Plaza’s parking lot, the first-ever Bergen County Food & Wine Festival will take place. Day One, which will be “Burgers & Brews,” some of Bergen County’s most well known restaurants, not necessarily known for their burgers but their culinary prowess, will compete for the top prize of Bergen’s best gourmet burger. So you don’t go thirsty, beers, wines and spirits will be available for the tasting from 12-5 p.m. I ask you, is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Then there’s Sunday’s “Tasting Village.” On Sept. 17, over 70 restaurants will showcase their best work, as everything from steak, to Italian cuisines and good ole’ finger-lickin’ BBQ will be out for the tasting, once again accompanied by a wide selection of beers, wines and spirit cocktails sure to make your fall Sunday afternoon (the N.Y. Jets are away and play at 4 p.m. and the N.Y. Giants play Monday night) that much better.

    

    

Of course, this is all made possible from the generosity of The Bergen County Food & Wine Festival sponsors. First and foremost, Inserra Supermarkets, the event’s presenting sponsor. As we head into the final months of planning, there’s not a more supporting group to have on our side. Their collection of ShopRite stores throughout Bergen County, as well as their many ShopRite Liquor stores, made them a perfect fit for the festival.

As the planning committee closes in on the two-month countdown, we are so excited to bring you an event that celebrates Bergen County and provides for a day of fun, food, and community bonding. Mark your calendar for Sept. 16 and the 17. You’re not going to want to miss this.

By Brandon Goldstein

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