In a town jampacked with fundraising dinners, how does an organization stand out? For one it's not about the food but the way guests will eat it.
On Saturday, the Greater Bakersfield Council of the Blind is holding its 13th annual Dine in the Dark Fundraiser. There, attendees will enjoy their meal blindfolded.
"You get to have a meal and you're blindfolded," said Penny Valdovinos, an organizer of the event, who is vision-impaired herself. "It's a little bit of what we do every day."
Guests will be told by servers what's on their plate and, visualizing the plate as a clock, where on the plate each serving is. The meal will include a salad, entree and dessert.
"You get to be blind for an hour," Valdovinos said. "It's not fair to cheat but some people do."
Those who might want to get a look at their plate to make sure they aren't eating something they'd prefer to avoid can rest easy. Accommodations can be made for special diets; just call Valdovinos ahead of time.
The event came about after Valdovinos heard of a restaurant in New York City that served its customers in a totally dark room.
"I thought, 'How cool is that?'" she said, adding that the council didn't have a fundraiser at the time and she thought an event like that restaurant would be fun.
Valdovinos said the fundraiser is always a good time but also educational for those guests who have sight.
"For us, it's not anything, it's daily life," Valdovinos said of eating without sight. "(The guests) stop and think 'This is hard.' You can take off the mask; we can't. It's an eye-opener. They appreciate it."
The fundraiser will feature Aaron Perlman and Matt Pelishek of Life FM as emcees. There will also be an auction, with special baskets and gift cards among the available items.
Dine in the Dark tends to raise at least $1,000 for the council, though last year's total was closer to $2,000, Valdovinos said.
Money raised at the fundraiser goes to the council's various funds, which include a scholarship fund, white cane fund and general fund. With those funds, the council can help the local blind community with financial help for a new cane, school expenses and transportation, among others.
The council also advocates for accessibility on behalf of the blind community and educates the public about its needs.
Valdovinos hopes people will come to the fundraiser this weekend to get to know the blind or sight-impaired members of the community and to learn a little of what their experience is like.
"Dine in the Dark is going to be really fun. We have a great, fun time."