As temperatures went up on Saturday, so did spirits. The 15th annual Los Olivos Jazz & Olive Festival sponsored by the Los Olivos Rotary Club, went off without a hitch, attracting a sold-out event of 650 festivalgoers to Lavinia Campbell Park in downtown Los Olivos.

The leisurely afternoon event attended by locals and many return visitors from Los Angeles and Orange County, featured dozens of area wineries perched inside of white tents pouring healthy tastings for pairing with a varied selection of gourmet foods, including olive-inspired dishes, prepared by 30 different chefs. 

A friendly culinary competition involving "O Chefs" — who are not professional but bring years of culinary practice to the table — produced delicious creations that were judged based on originality, best tasting and overall best.

The Rotary reported the results: Overall winner was Sue Doherty for Sweet Treat cookies made with olive oil; Vida Gustafson was crowned most original with her Crispy Fried Olives with Aioli; and the best tasting title was claimed by Rich Nagler and Jim Lohnas for Garlicky Greek Beef Stew with Olives and Capers.

While indulging their palates, attendees in no hurry to leave, settled in for a picnic on the lawn to enjoy the rhythmic sounds of jazz music performed by Grammy nominee Denise Donatelli and her band.

With wine glass and food plate in hand, some attendees sought the cool air offered by the Los Olivos Community Organization building where they could also participate in the annual silent auction being held. 

According to Rotary Club member and silent auction and publicity committee member, Stacey Otte-Demangate, the Jazz & Olive Festival is the organization's most important fundraiser that funds their local scholarship program, community grants and international projects. 

“Our Rotary Club works on this event all year long and after 15 years it’s become a regular sell-out, that nets over $40,000. Every club member participates in some manner so that we can raise significant funds that we then can distribute throughout the community all year long," explained  Otte-Demangate. "It’s a long hard day for us but we’re all smiling at the end, knowing we can help a lot of people.”

For more information about the Los Olivos Rotary Club, visit https://www.losolivosrotary.org or call (805) 325-9280. 

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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