City Fruit’s Virtual Gala to Feature Cider Tasting, Costume Contest, and Trivia Hosted by Jeopardy! G.O.A.T. Ken Jennings

by Mark Van Streefkerk 

Trivia fans, this is your night to shine! Join the nonprofit City Fruit online Sunday, October 25 at 5 p.m. for a virtual gala with a hard cider tasting, a Halloween costume contest, and trivia hosted by Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings, plus Senator Rebecca Saldaña and family in attendance. Trivia teams of up to five people can play for a chance to win a grand prize $500 gift certificate to James Beard-award winning restaurant Canlis, as well as other prizes. You can buy tickets and sign up for the cider tasting, trivia, or both here

The nonprofit’s annual gala typically revolves around cider tastings, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, City Fruit pivoted to a fully online format, adding a family-friendly Halloween costume contest and live trivia. City Fruit is a Seattle-based nonprofit that reclaims the city’s often-underutilized fruit trees, providing free fruit to the community and opportunities for education and stewardship. Like all organizations, City Fruit has had its share of challenges this year, including limiting the number of volunteers during work parties and adopting COVID-19 protocols for their Fruit For All pop-ups. Through ticket sales to the virtual gala, City Fruit hopes to raise $60,000 to continue their mission of sharing the bounty of Seattle’s urban fruit tees with food banks, meal programs, and local farm-to-table businesses. Their goal is to surpass 100 households attending the event as cider tasters, trivia players, or both.

The celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. with a half-hour local cider tasting. In past galas, City Fruit “would have representatives from each cidery in attendance,” explained City Fruit advocate Ramlah Ringold Olt. “They would pour little sample-sized drinks of their ciders. Our guests would try it and then they’d get to talk with a representative of the cidery about the cider and the attributes of the cider. Because we can’t be together physically, each of our cideries is providing us with a video that we will play”. 

Those who sign up for the tasting will receive instructions for when to pick up their cider samples from one of the three pick-up sites in the Seattle area: Phinney Neighborhood Center, Rainier Community Center, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Bellevue. Ten local cideries will be participating. “Support Local Cideries” tickets are $50 and include four full-sized bottles. “Support Our Community” tickets are $125 and include six full-sized bottles and a special cider tasting mug. 

The next part of the celebration will be trivia hosted by Ken Jennings, christened the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time earlier this year. The trivia contest was added to round out the virtual celebration with more all-ages entertainment. “Once that idea was suggested, one of our staff members said, ‘Hey I have a connection to Ken Jennings. Let’s see if he’ll do it for us,’” Olt said. Jennings is best known for his 74-game winning streak, the longest in the game show’s history. 

Olt mentioned that though participants won’t be able to directly interact with Jennings, he will host a full hour of live trivia. References to alcohol will only happen during the cider tasting part of the celebration and the rest of the gala will be “very family-friendly and respectful, and there’s no mention of alcohol in the trivia,” Olt said, noting that Jennings doesn’t drink alcohol. Teams of up to five people can register for $200. Find out more about the trivia and play a warm-up game to get familiar with the format here

The team that scores the most points will receive a $500 gift certificate to Canlis. Other contest winners will receive either a virtual cider-making class with Dave Selden of 33 Books, or a virtual cooking class from The Pantry

Those who purchased a ticket are eligible to enter the Halloween costume contest and will receive instructions on how to submit their costume photos before the celebration. The City Fruit staff will select the top four submissions, and trivia participants will vote on the winning costume. 

Representing the 37th legislative district, Senator Rebecca Saldaña will be attending the celebration. Saldaña comes from a family of immigrant farm workers, was previously a union organizer, and has passed bills to protect farmers. “We thought she was a very appropriate person to speak at our event. She decided that she and her family will also play trivia. She’ll be playing along with everyone else, and she’ll speak live at the end,” Olt said.

Deadlines for cider tasting registrations are October 24 for Rainier Community Center and Holy Cross Lutheran Church pick-up. Costume contest photos must be entered before midnight October 23. The deadline for trivia teams to register is October 24 at 6 p.m.

There are still plenty of chances to volunteer at City Fruit this fall. Check out the upcoming work parties here

Mark Van Streefkerk is a South Seattle-based journalist living in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. 

Featured image: courtesy of City Fruit.