LACONIA — Some 70 people turned out at Hector's Fine Food and Spirits in downtown Laconia on Monday evening for a unique dining experience, a "Dinner in the Dark" at which they dined blindfolded.
Hosted by the Central New Hampshire Advisory Committee of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind , the unique sensory awareness experience took participants on a journey in which they experienced dining as a blind person, using only the senses of taste, sound and touch.
''It was an experience that really had a big impact on the people taking part,'' said Jean Foote, who said that at first participants were a little nervous but soon came to appreciate for the way it broadened their understanding of those with vision problems.
''Many people have problems relating to blind people and feel awkward around them. Most people don't even want to think of losing heir sight. So the event made them much more aware and hopefully spread the message that there are ways to help and that blind people can lead successful, normal lives,'' said Foote.
Keynote speaker was scheduled to be Randy Pierce, association board member, client and founder of 2020 Vision Quest, who has summited all 48 of New Hampshire's highest peaks in a single winter season. But his guide dog, "Quinn'', was recently hospitalized with a jaw problem and wasn't up to making the trip.
Speaking instead was Gracie Cilley of Meredith Village Savings Bank, who told those present about the struggles of an eight-year-old relative who is losing her sight due to complications from diabetes.
Sponsors for the event included Meredith Village Savings Bank, Sawyers Jewelry, E&S Insurance Services, The Laconia Daily Sun, Shetty Opthamology and the Salmon Press.
Created in Germany, "Dining in the Dark" is a one-of-a-kind concept that has been enjoyed by many people across Europe and came to this country in 2005.
To date the New Hampshire Association for the Blind has hosted similar events at Rudi's in Portsmouth and The Way We Cook in Manchester. Both were sold-out, as was the dinner at Hector's. All funds raised, as well as a portion of all tickets sold, support the many critical programs and services that have helped people of central New Hampshire live full and independent lives despite their vision loss.