By Kathy L. Collins

Each year the Straz Center for the Performing Arts (the Straz) holds the Best of Tampa Bay, one of its signature fundraising events. This year, the Best of Tampa Bay will be held on Saturday, April 16 beginning at 7 p.m. The Straz is located at 1010 N. MacInnnes Pl. in Tampa.

The Best of Tampa Bay is a tantalizing event featuring entrée samplings, luscious desserts, beer and premium drinks. There will be more than 40 of Tampa Bay’s finest restaurants on hand including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, EATS! American Grill, Anise Global Gastrobar, Boca Kitchen Bar & Market, Little Greek, Ocean Prime and Yummy House China Bistro to name a few.

A number of microbreweries including Ulele Spring Brewery, Two Henry’s Brewing Co. and Cigar City Brewing will also be on hand.

What is an evening of food and drink without music? You can enjoy entertainment from up to five local bands (TBD) at the event.

The Straz is one of largest performing arts complexes in the country. The 335,000 sq. ft. venue provides an environment for a wide variety of world class events including one of the nation’s leading Broadway series. It is nationally respected for producing grand opera, concerts, performances and events.

According to Paul Bilyeu, Senior Director of Communications for the Straz,“Proceeds from the Best of Tampa Bay benefit the mission and arts education programs of the Straz Center and ensure that everyone in our community has the chance to discover the life-changing impact of the performing arts.”

Since its inception 30 years ago, the Straz’ Best of Tampa Bay has raised over $2 million for arts education programming.

Tickets and sponsorships for the Best of Tampa Bay are available. Individual Tickets including open bar, food tastings and entertainment are $75 before March 31; after they are $90. VIP Tickets which come with early access to the event, access to private lounges and more are just $125 before March 31; after they are $150.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 229-STAR (7827). You can visit the Straz Center Ticket Office or go online at www.strazcenter.org.