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Wine festival 'puts on the dog'

MEREDITH — More than 300 people raised about $14,000 for the New Hampshire Humane Society Thursday night at the seventh annual Winnipesaukee Wine Festival, hosted by The Common Man restaurants and Martignetti Companies of New Hampshire Thursday night.

The crowd filled Church Landing for the wine tasting that was organized and run by The Common Man's Diane Downing.

Some 20 wine vendors presented samples of more than 150 wines for a $50 admission, Downing said. Raffles and other events raised additional funds.

Each year the festival provides a fun way for local, national and international wine dealers to present their products to the public, while giving the Common Man family of restaurants and its co-sponsors a way to give to the community

&#';We feel a responsibility to give back, and we are firm believers that if you're going to ask people to give, you have to make it enjoyable,&#'; Downing said.

The Humane Society, located in Laconia, currently has five full-time and seven part-time staffers caring for 97 cats and 30 dogs, said Marylee Gorham, the society's development and volunteer director.

The shelter has more than 130 volunteers, but resources have been thin at the shelter in the past few years.

&#';Events like this help us care for and comfort all of our animals,&#'; Gorham said.

Donations of money, animal food and other supplies keep the shelter going, but, as other charities have found, there hasn't been as much to spare as in the past, she said.

&#';The 2008 recession hurt us like it has hurt so many charities,&#'; she said.

Throughtout the night, men and women of all ages, dressed in formal attire, sipped on the samples from wine vendors.

&#';You wouldn't believe how many of these people told me on the way in tonight that they got pets from our shelter,&#'; Gorham said with a smile.

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Dan Seufert may be reached at


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