Foodies, get ready to raise your forks for scholarships

Optimist Club presents 2nd annual Totally Forked entrée- and dessert-tasting April 6 in Exeter


EXETER – Some of the best chefs in Tulare County would like to serve you something special and they’ll do it at a premier foodie event next month in Exeter.

The Optimist Club of Exeter presents its 2nd annual Totally Forked entree- and dessert-tasting experience from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at the Exeter Memorial Building. Attendees will have an opportunity to sample off-menu dishes while sipping on select craft beer and fine wine pairings. Plus, a silent auction will be available throughout the evening. This year’s restaurants include Café Lafayette, Hometown Emporium, Monet’s, Fortune Cookie, and Quesadilla Gorilla.

Logo for Totally Forked Fundraiser and Foodies' Night Out 2019. Design by Robert Perry,

Logo for Totally Forked Fundraiser and Foodies’ Night Out 2019. Design by Robert Perry,

Proceeds from the event benefit scholarships for continuation high school students at Deep Creek Academy in Farmersville and Kaweah High School in Exeter. The scholarships are unique because they can be used at a variety of post-secondary education including community college courses, certification programs, beauty/barber schools, truck driving programs, tools for apprenticeships, etc.

“This event even helped inspire one of our scholarship recipients to attend culinary school in San Francisco,” Ellis said. “This event has helped concoct sweet dreams for many students who thought a career or even college was out of reach.”

The Optimist Club of Exeter was the first organization to offer scholarships to graduating seniors who had attended continuation high school or alternative education classes in high schools in Exeter and Farmersville. The motto of the Optimist Club is “Bringing out the best in kids.” The Exeter club operates with the understanding there are no bad kids, only kids in bad situations. Many students attend continuation high school because they have fallen behind on units due to absence or sickness, some struggle with unstable family situations and some are even considered homeless.

“Over the past nine years, Optimist Club members have had the privilege of meeting countless students who have overcome broken home lives to graduate from high school,” Ellis said. “When you consider the obstacles in their way, just being at school is a reason to recognize these students.”

This year’s event is also partnering with The Sun-Gazette newspaper’s Tulare-Kings Football Preview to offer scholarships to student-athletes featured on the magazine’s cover. The cover will be unveiled and the scholarships presented at a special event hosted by The Sun-Gazette this summer. The scholarship recipients are selected for their on-field performance based on statistical analysis by The Sun-Gazette staff. 

“Students take many pathways to get to college and maintaining eligibility to play sports is often a huge motivator for students who may not excel in the classroom,” Ellis said. “The Optimist Club supports every student, especially those who trip on the traditional road to education and must take an alternate route.”

Sponsors for this year’s event include McEwen Nursery, Main Street Exeter, Bank of the Sierra, Shark Tooth Dentistry, Nielsen and Associates, Exeter Family Dentistry, Evans Miller Guinn Exeter Chapel, Miller and Narahara Doctors of Optometry, Harvest Wealth Group – Garrett German, NSE Insurance Agencies, Inc., Wilson’s Abbey Medi-Cab, Jim Tyler Construction, and The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

Tickets for Totally Forked are $35 and can be purchased from any Optimist Club of Exeter member, online at, or at Main Street Exeter, 145 N. E Street, or The Sun-Gazette newspaper, 402 S. F Street, both in Exeter. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 559-909-2996 or 559-592-5578.

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