Thousands taste the region's top food and wine to benefit area charities.
The Suncoast Food and Wine Fest has become a tradition for best friends Camille Bowens and Sherry Bauer.
Bowens has driven to Lakewood Ranch from Fort Lauderdale for the past three years to accompany Bauer, of Lakewood Ranch, at the festival.
"We plan a month in advance," Bauer said. "As soon as we get the e-mail saying it's coming up, we buy our tickets."
The friends of 12 years donned "Wine Tasting Friends" shirts before they joined about 2,000 people who attended the Nov. 9 event at Premier Sports Campus to enjoy more than 200 wines and food samples from about 50 restaurants. All proceeds go to local charities and Rotary programs through an annual grant process.
Steve Schlueter, chairman of the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest, said the Rotary Club is close to raising $2 million from the 18 times the event has been held over the years.