December 05th, 2023

baker wines and valentines poster 2Courtesy photoROBERT PIERCE

• Leader & Times


Starting tonight and ending Tuesday, the town of Liberal will have lots of fun things to do for locals and visitors.

The fun begins tonight with the first presentation of the Seward County Community College original production “That’s Mighty Liberal.” Performances will also take place Friday night and Saturday afternoon.


Of course, the highlight of the nearly full week of fun is the International Pancake Day celebration, which starts Saturday morning and will finish Tuesday afternoon. Part of the Pancake Day fun is Monday evening’s dignitary reception at Baker Arts Center, and the center will have something for people to do on Saturday as well.


With Valentines Day falling on Wednesday, the day after Pancake Day, the day may not seem like much for a date night, so Baker is bringing back what is fast becoming a traditional event to help celebrate the day of love on Saturday night.

Baker Director Toni Smith said Wines and Valentines, which has typically taken place in February, has done well except for one year when it was moved to May.


“Gordon Applebee, who used to do our wine tasting for us, stated to me, ‘Toni, you never want to have a wine tasting when it’s warm. You have them when it’s cold,’” she said. “I said, ‘What would be a really great time to have it?’ He said, ‘Usually around Valentine’s Day.’”


Smith said this is the origin of the event now called Wines and Valentine’s Day.


“We always have it centered around Valentines Day, whether it’s the weekend before, the day of or weekend after, depending on what Valentines Day comes on,” she said.


As the name implies, those who come to Baker can taste some wines, and as with last year’s event, they can also try some chocolate.


“Last year was the first time that we ever paired chocolates with the wines, and we had tons of people tell us how special that was,” Smith said. “We are doing that again this year. We are having a lot of hors d’oeuvres, appetizers. We always like to have a small silent auction.”


Smith said the silent auction is perfect for those looking for last-minute Valentine gifts, as well as a date night for a couple.


“We have some fun things that we’re going to do this year for our silent auction,” she said. “This year, it is sponsored by Liberal Liquors and Standard Beverages. They are bringing in four different tables of different kinds of wines.”


A fifth table will feature other drinks in addition to wine.


“It’s going to be some new whiskeys, some maybe new bourbon that has come out, just something different,” Smith said. “You’ll get a chance to taste some newer liquors that are coming out as well.”


Smith said with tickets for single members at $15, member couples at $25, single non-members at $20 and non-member couples at $35, the evening will provide an affordable time of eating, shopping and a great time.


Baker’s sales gallery will likewise be open, and Smith said there are nice items there to be purchased for Valentine’s Day. She said Wines and Valentines is simply a nice chance to socialize with others in a non-constricted atmosphere.


“It’s come and go,” she said. “You may decide you want to be here a couple hours and leave. The silent auction starts at 6, and it is over at 7:30. The tickets will be shut down at that time, and we will figure out who won those items. Those last five minutes of a silent auction anywhere are usually pretty exciting to see people having bidding wars over things.”


Smith said she considers wine a part of the arts world, and Baker is proud to offer an event like Wines and Valentines.

Those who come Saturday evening can also see a couple of exhibits currently up at the center.


“While you’re here, please take note of our Black History Month on the main level,” she said. “The surprise is that we have another history in the building, which is Mrs. Baker. We have Mrs. Baker’s photography in the lower level and the west gallery, and we also have some of her photography equipment.”


Smith said the equipment in Mrs. Baker’s exhibit is out of this world, particularly seeing how pictures were captured in earlier times.


“The equipment alone is something to see,” she said. “We have several things out in our cases and also in some of our pedestals of Mrs. Baker’s photography equipment and her films and her slides. A lot of the history of Mrs. Baker’s photography is in our lower level. If you come to the wine tasting, you will get to see all of these two exhibits together.”


Wines and Valentines starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Baker Arts Center at 624 N. Pershing in Liberal. Smith said the center will also be open from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday for those wanting to see the exhibits and Monday evening for the Pancake Day dignitary reception.