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Sip & Spell set for Saturday benefits upcoming Bookfest

Jennifer Hart and Amy Acaya were already working on organizing a national book tour for a Modesto author when Annie Cunial and Michele Davis approached them about getting involved with the annual “Sip and Spell” adult spelling bee.

For the founders of The Social Muse, the event seemed like a natural progression – a chance to help raise funds for the Great Valley Bookfest, which promotes literacy throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley, while at the same time doing so in a fun and inviting environment.

And who could possibly turn down the chance to drink wine and test their spelling mettle?

“Their goal is to increase attendance and awareness of this event to new networks of people,” Acaya said. “When we met with them we learned that this fundraiser benefits the Great Valley Bookfest, an organization that promotes literacy and supports amazing programs like Give Every Child a Chance.

“Jen and I both attended school kindergarten through high school in Manteca Unified School District, and feel strongly about supporting causes that elevate education.”

Tickets for the event – which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Cabana Del Sol, located at 1124 W. Yosemite Avenue – can be purchased online at for $20 each. The ticket includes admission and three signature sangrias, and the event will include comedian spell master Felica Aleman. Cunial will serve as the spelling official.

And while the event will be a spelling bee with teams competing against one another, it will also be an event where audience participation is encouraged – and will ultimately benefit the charity being served.

For example, the audience may buy a team’s way back into the competition if they are eliminated – with the proceeds going to benefit the Great Valley Bookfest – and the audience may also pay to help a team with a word. Good-natured heckling will also be encouraged.

“This event ties into the mission of The Social Muse, which is to bring fun and positive events to our community – this fits that criteria and supports the community on a whole other level,” Hart said. “Literacy is extremely important and the Great Valley Bookfest supports a lot of local non-profits.

“People don’t always realize how much work non-profits account for in helping, building and growing our community – it’s important that we celebrate and support them.”

The Great Valley Bookfest is set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 13, at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley – located off of the Union Road exit on the Highway 120 Bypass. For additional information about the event, visit

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.