Joyce M. Johnson

Guests sampled 150 wines and beers and hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed an auction featuring original work from Akron Arts Expo artists as well as packages from local businesses at the 14th annual wine tasting and silent auction Friday evening in Hardesty Park.

“You have the opportunity to try a number of imports and you can find out what your taste buds are all about when you come here,” said Rick Rodger of Heidelberg Distributing.

Jared Street inspected the auction items and especially liked the photographs.

Grace Zupancie said she enjoyed herself so much, she planned to return for the arts festival the next day.

Also mingling in the crowd were Carol Welker and her sister, Cheryl Stefaniak, Jimmy Welker and Nancy McKenna and Jon Miller.

Dr. Lisa Stanford and her husband, James Bailey, agreed that they liked to take in the local culture since they moved here from Chicago.

“My sister has never been to this and it was her birthday this month, so I brought her here as a gift,” said June Rice. Her sister, Jessica Rice, said, “I am looking forward to tasting the sweet wines.”

The evening included a performance by the Neos Dance Theatre. All proceeds support the Arts Expo and its programs.

Michaels craft store designer Gary Grether has been participating with the benefit since its inception and has donated to the silent auction every year. Grether brought his friend, MerryAnne Scheible, to the event.

“It’s got a good vibe here as well as good auction items, a chance to see the ballet. ... It’s just a great way to help out,” said Kimberly Wiandt.