“Date night,” said Melissa Pyle, Hays, who was strolling Main Street on Friday night as part of downtown Hays’ Ninth Annual Wines & Steins.

“This is our third time,” said Pyle, who was there with her husband, Chris Pyle, “We’re here with a bunch of people. Eleven couples. We’re all mom friends.”

Becky and Matt Benoit, Damar, included, had sipped wine at The Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro and Market just minutes earlier. Tom and Donna Benoit, Matt’s parents, were babysitting the kids, 5 and 2, they said.

While the Wines & Steins crowd had already moved through The Paisley Pear, some regulars remained.

“It’s great just to have a place like this in Hays,” said Richard Jensen, sitting at the bar with his wife, Gail, and Paisley Pair owner Shaun Musil, owner.

“We just enjoy their wines,” Gail said, “and the family atmosphere.” 

At Chestnut Street Kitchens, Wines & Steins brought a line out the door of the shop at 1310 Main St., despite an overcast sky and a light on-and-off mist.

“It felt like there were 200 people,” said employee Joyce Heffel. “That first 30 minutes was non-stop.”

A flower and wedding planning shop, Chestnut Street was one of the 15 stops on Main Street for wine, beer and food as part of the fundraiser for the Downtown Hays Development Corp.

Up to 300 people purchased tickets at $50 each to attend the event, aimed at making people aware of downtown businesses and what they have to offer.

Part of the draw is that the red bricks of Main Street are closed to traffic, allowing ticket holders to freely cross the street. The event typically raises $25,000 or more for the marketing group, said Sara Bloom, executive director.

“We sold out of tickets again this year,” Bloom said. “We had a few left over for walk ups. …I think downtown is the draw. People love downtown, they love being downtown on a beautiful night.” 

Items up for bid at the evening’s silent auction at the Fox Pavilion, 1202 Main St., included a dinner with Fort Hays State University President Tisa Mason, a Daytona Beach Getaway, an antique diamond ring, a catered BBQ meal for 20, and a dinner package for 12 at Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing.

This is Bloom’s third year planning the event.

“Our goal is to bring awareness and market downtown — the atmosphere, the businesses and the history,” she said.