Sugar Beet Gala Brings Square Dancing, Farmers and Families Together

Community group to host a celebration of food, family, farmers and fun at FitzGerald's.

The Sugar Beet Cooperative is throwing a big ol' party and you're all invited.

The first-ever Sugar Beet Benefit Gala will be a celebration of the still-forming food cooperative's recent accomplishments, as well as a farm-to-table dinner that puts their sustainability philosophy into a delicious practice.

And square dancing. 

That's right, there's gonna a be a family-friendly hoe-down at FitzGerald's, with live music from the Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band.

The Sugar Beet was formed earlier this year by a group of northeast Oak Parkers intent on "nurting our diverse community through the practice of cooperative economics and through educational programming honoring a more sustainable relationship between the foods we eat and the world we live in." 

The group has since swelled to about two dozen people involved in one way or another. 

"People are trusting us to run with [the idea]," said Cheryl Munoz, who along with Jenny Jocks Stelzer is one Sugar Beet's founding organizers. "But people are also taking ownership of it."

Maybe you've seen them around town at the Oak Park Farmers' Market, Earth Fest, the village's Fourth of July parade or at the recent "Voluntary Simplicity" seminar at . 

Soon, they'll be hosting a bike tour of local backyard gardens and teaching children to harvest and prepare foods from the 's garden. 

"We're still honing our message and we talk about it constantly," Munoz said.

They're working their way toward nonprofit status and opening a cooperative, member-supported storefront somewhere in Oak Park. The proceeds from Thursday's gala will help them get there.

The benefit kicks off with a farm-to-table dinner, with garden fresh produce and delicious meats supplied by farmers Jody and Beth Osmund at Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, and the bounty will be prepared by local chefs and culinary students at Robert Morris University

A presentation by Seven Generations Ahead, an Oak Park-based nonprofit geared toward sustainability, will follow. 

The Sugar Beet Gala takes place 6-10 p.m. July 26 at FitzGerald's Night Club, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. Tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under and are avaible for online purchase

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