The Sacramento Zoo celebrated their annual King of Feasts Saturday night and transformed the park into a tropical oasis, complete with Polynesian dancers, food and wine (and beer!) galore, and the sound of chimpanzees howling in the background.
Zoo-goers of the over-21 King of Feasts treated themselves to a feast of flavors as nearly 50 restaurants, wineries, and breweries from all over Sacramento lined the walkways of the zoo. Attendees munched and drank their way through the park with a plate and wine glass in hand, sampling offerings from the likes of Mulvaney’s B&L, Slightly Skewed, The Melting Pot, Chittlins N’ Thangs, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Vic’s Ice Cream, New Helvetia Brewing Company, Amador Cellars, and Silk Road Soda—just to name a few. (See a full list here!)
And as if sampling some of our city’s best isn’t enough, all proceeds from the event, as well as its evening-long silent auction, support the zoo and their educational programs.
“I think it’s fabulous,” said Vanita Vrilakas, who is a zoo member and has attended all but one (due to a wedding) of the zoo’s King of Feasts. “I like that it supports the zoo and I like the food, the wine, the ambiance. It’s a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.”
Sitting next to Vrilakas was fellow-mother-in-law Marella Kelly. “It’s just elegant. Very elegant,” she said. “They have the best restaurants, the best wine. And more beer [than previous years] so the guys are happy.”
Hawaiian music played throughout the park, as did the beat of drums while Polynesian dancers performed in full garb. Shows took place simultaneously on both sides of the zoo as girls from Kaulumele’s Polynesian Dancers and Hula Event impressed feast-goers with their hip-laden skills.
“You can be tired, you can be totally beat, and the minute your feet hit that stage and there’s people out there…it gives you a jazz. There’s absolutely nothing like it,” Sondra Sperr, dance kumu (“teacher” in Hawaiian) of the Kaulumele’s Polynesian Dancers, said of the energy of performing at the feast.
The animals also put on show of their own as crowds couldn’t help but gather around the sights and sounds of the zoo. The lemurs’ momentary collective craze echoed loudly inside their cave, the height of the giraffes awed a consistent group of people, and a chimpanzee shocked a crowd when he casually did some less-than-gentlemanly things. And the King of the Feast—the lion himself—proved why he earned the name King of the Jungle when he let out a tremendous roar and immediately attracted groups of startled guests. Overheard was someone fearfully saying, “I’d hate to be eaten by one of those!”
From a safe distance, however, attendees got a chance to experience the zoo at it’s best as the warm summer day made way for a perfect evening of music, entertainment from both animals and people alike, and good food and drinks for all.
Photos copyright Bethany Harris