LAUGHLIN — The big winner at Friday night’s Fiesta fundraiser was the Sunrise Rotary Club of Fort Mohave, which took three of the four first-place trophies up for grabs.
The bigger winners however, were the hundreds of local children served by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River. The 12 teams and 700 guests convened to have a good time, bond over margaritas and support a good cause.
The Rotary Club was tabbed by the panel of judges as having the best blended margarita and the best booth. The club also took the People’s Choice award, voted on by booth visitors, through their donations into the teams’ “tip boxes.”
New for the event’s 22nd year, Club CEO Autumn Boyle-Robinson said the tip boxes were given to teams earlier. Not only could they be customized, but it also allowed employees and customers to participate.
The Rotary Club also was named best blended margarita in 2018.
“I was hoping to just defend the blended,” Club President Anita Bray said. “For us to get a trifecta? I’m just so happy and thankful.”
Bray said the wins were the result of the hard work of the club members on the project.
The winning drink, the “Tito-rita,” was a salted-caramel apple concoction with whipped cream.
Tito’s Vodka also inspired the booth’s cantina theme.
The trophy for best on-the-rocks margarita went to the host Aquarius Casino Resort, which also won in the category last year.
Leanna Schnanbel, beverage manager for the Aquarius and the jointly owned Colorado Belle and Edgewater resorts, called the entry a “dirty sunrise.” It contained tequila infused with cinnamon and pineapple; the drink also had peach and coconut in it.
The Aquarius’ blended-margarita entry, a mango-strawberry margarita made with Malibu Red, took second place in the category.
Earlier in the evening, Carly Anderson at the Belle/Edgewater booth said she’d be happy to see the Aquarius, also owned by Golden Entertainment, take some hardware.
“Either way, Golden wins and the kids win,” Anderson said.
The kids certainly were winners. Boyle-Robinson said she hoped to raise $65,000 through the event. Findlay Chevrolet Buick GMC provided a boost toward that goal by announcing a donation of $18,000.
Shane Pollock, Findlay’s marketing director, said the dealership has supported the club for years, and decided to up its contribution.
“It’s always an easy thing to hand over a little bit of money to Autumn,” Pollock said.
Boyle-Robinson said money raised at the Fiesta will go toward summer programs. Those include arts and music, physical fitness, a teen camping trip to the Grand Canyon, and a trip to Bearizona for younger children.
While there are program fees for many activities, Boyle-Robinson said, the club provides scholarships for those who are unable to pay; she said the club’s goal is to never turn away a child.
“The kids in our community need our help,” Boyle-Robinson said to the competitors and guests. “We’re working diligently to help them. Thank you for helping us do that.”
The evening also included raffles, a silent auction and a 50-50 drawing. Among the raffle items was a “booze boat,” an inflatable raft into which had been placed about 32 bottles of wine and spirits.
Boyle-Robinson said she got a lot of positive feedback.
“Everybody seemed to have a great time,” she said. “Usually, when people have a great time, they tend to be really generous.”
Several first-time visitors raved about the event.
“It’s a good margarita day, as hot as it is,” said Eddie Dobbins, a Laughlin resident and a veteran of wine-tasting events in California.
His early favorite was a habanero-mango drink.
Jennifer O’Dell, of Phoenix, was invited by a friend.
“I think it’s fabulous,” she said. “Everybody is wonderful and the drinks are great.”
Cody Hamlett, of Bullhead City, found the music, drinks and fajita dinner all agreeable: “Oh, heck yeah” was his response to whether he would come to another Fiesta.
Among the drinks available for sampling on the Aquarius Pavilion floor:
- A strawberry-watermelon “Fireball-arita.”
- The “Acapulco,” a margarita made with passion fruit and coconut.
- Two jalapeño-flavored drinks from the Valley View Medical Center team, whose members wore T-shirts identifying themselves as the “Jalapeño Hotties.”
- A virgin entry from the Boys & Girls Club booth, aimed at ensuring that designated drivers and teetotalers also could enjoy a beverage.