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Salsa-Licious spices up Sargent's

Lucy Richardson (front), director of Hispanic Outreach, tests her organization's salsa as the doors open Saturday to Salsa-Licious.1 / 2
Jason Jech (left), Environmental Learning Center director, talks with prospective members. In addition to chips and dips, Salsa-Licious gave nonprofits the opportunity to showcase their programs.2 / 2

Even though temps were only in the 20s on Saturday, things felt much warmer inside Sargent's Nursery. Salsa-Licious -- a communitywide event designed to raise money for 12 local nonprofits -- took over the greenhouse portion of the nursery Saturday afternoon.

"When you walked into the greenhouse, you could feel the sunshine, smell the salsas," event organizer and United Way Executive Director Maureen Nelson said. "You felt warm and sunny. You automatically had a fiesta feeling."

The event featured a salsa competition, with 15 organizations -- including 12 nonprofits and three businesses -- submitting their chip-topping concoctions. There was also salsa dancing, music and drinks.

By the end of the day, Nelson said about 550 people had come through the door.

"It well-exceeded our expectations," she said. "Five hundred and fifty people, you can't scoff at that."

In order to vote, people bought vote cards from the 12 participating nonprofits for $2 each. The more cards they bought, the more votes they could cast.

"Voter fraud was encouraged. The more ballots you bought, the more money went to the nonprofits," said Ethan Seaberg, a member of the Red Wing Masonic Lodge.

The masons served as the judges for the best salsa name and best costume contests, helped staff the ticket booth and helped organize the event.

"It was just fun to be a part of," Seaberg said. "It was a real festive atmosphere. It really was a fun day."

Nelson said she won't know until Friday how much money the event raised, but added that overall, she was "very pleased" with how the first-time event turned out.

"It was a way to bring those nonprofits together to work together," Nelson said, adding that when nonprofits collaborate on projects and fundraising, it benefits everyone involved. "We're trying to do more and more things as a unit."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.