Whistler Public Library named as charity partner of Cornucopia festival 

Between $70,000 and $100,000 expected to be raised from 11-day food and wine event

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The Whistler Public Library could reap up to $100,000 after being named as the charitable recipient of this year's Cornucopia food and wine festival.

"We're really excited about partnering with them and they're really excited as well," said Sue Eckersley, whose company Watermark produces the festival.

Because Cornucopia runs for 11 days this year, from Nov. 7 to 17, the donation could be double that raised in the past, Eckersley said. Last year the festival ran five days.

"Cornucopia usually raises between $35,000 and $50,000 for the charitable recipient, but this year they have the opportunity of basically doubling that based on the fact that there are 11 days and there are a variety of new events to give opportunities for fundraising," Eckersley said.

"It is about driving tourism to the resort at a time when there is not a lot and shining a bright light on the restaurants that exist within Whistler and the amazing culinary scene that we have. Since day one it has been very much connected with a great opportunity to support charitable work."

Cornucopia is working with library board chairman Gordon Annand and executive director Elizabeth Tracy on the partnership, Eckersley said.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the library. It's a huge opportunity. There's nothing but positives involved in the process," Annand said.

One of the unique things about the fundraising program, Eckersley said, is that the Cornucopia donation comes with no strings attached.

"That's often very useful to charities because often the money that goes to a charity has to be earmarked for a certain project or for certain object," she added. "The Cornucopia funds allow the library to save it for a rainy day, if they want that."

Annand said the windfall would support the library's services.

"As to what the money would be used for, it would be to support our reserve fund. Out of the reserve fund, we do things that are outside the box in terms of our regular activities that are funded by the (Resort Municipality of Whistler)," he said.

It could also be used to support its new service model to enhance visitor experience, which could lead to physical changes to how the library would look. The library has already received a grant from the American Friends of Whistler for this.

Depending on the cost, one project to be looked at would be building a deck on the library, something that was in its original plans. New computers are another possibility.

"Has the decision been made? No. The potential uses are very broad," Annand said. "We don't know how much will be raised."

Observing that the selection of Whistler library will have wide appeal in the community, Eckersley said: "It's obviously a really good fit with our demographic and so much of what we do and the people that we deal with... it's great."

This means that Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) will not receive a donation from Cornucopia this year.

"WAG has been the past recipient for two years and they were a great group to work with and dogs are very close to my heart," Eckersley said. "But the mandate that has been passed along in the years of Cornucopia is that we want to support multiple charities in the region so generally we don't work with a charity for more than two years in a row."

Eckersley said Cornucopia organizers were also excited about Indulge, the $175-a-ticket (if purchased by Nov. 1) evening at the Emerald Ballroom at the Westin Hotel, which has raised $350,000 for the Whistler Health Care Foundation in the past six years. It takes place on Nov. 16.

For more information on Cornucopia events and to book tickets, visit www.whistlercornucopia.com.

Speaking of Whistler Public Library

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