Melissa Sanders (standing) and Sue Attebery Photo courtesy Downtown Kingsport Association
by Dave Ongie
Change will be in the air when the Downtown Kingsport Association presents its largest fundraiser of the year on Oct. 13.
Traditionally held in August, the fourth annual Kingsport Wine and Brew Festival has been moved to the fall in hopes of cooler weather. The event will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of Kingsport’s Academic Village. And like a fine wine, Downtown Kingsport executive director Melissa Sanders hopes giving the festival a chance to breathe following a busy summer will ultimately provide a richer experience for attendees.
“We had three of our biggest events during a six-week timeframe,” Sanders said. “We couldn’t put as much as we wanted to into the festival. So to be able to spread those events out, we were able to not rush so much into the wine festival.”
While there is always a concern as to whether an event will get lost in the shuffle after a drastic move down the calendar, event co-chair Sue Attebery said the pros of changing the date far outweighed the cons.
“We just think it’s going to be so much fun in the fall,” Attebery said. “It will be more crisp, the wine is going to taste so much better and people are going to be much more comfortable outside.”
Those who find their way to the festival will be greeted with a wide assortment of options. In the past, the wine festival has featured choices primarily from Tennessee wineries. But this year, Attebery said attendees will have the world at their fingertips thanks to primary sponsor B&B Package Store.
“He’s getting people from all over the world,” Attebery said. “Their wines are coming from Australia, Argentina, Spanish wines, Israeli wine – it’s going to be something unique that you wouldn’t normally be able to get here.”
Thus, the “Around the World in 80 Sips” theme is apt, and the choices won’t end with wine. Several local breweries will also take part in the event, a nod to the burgeoning craft brew offerings being produced in our area.
Sanders said the ultimate goal of the Downtown Kingsport Association isn’t to simply put on large events – it is to draw attention to Downtown Kingsport. With so many breweries locating in the Model City, showcasing the businesses was an easy decision that will also help promote the region as a whole.
“The beer part came from wanting to be inclusive with our local breweries, because we have several breweries in downtown Kingsport and also in Bristol and Johnson City that are participating with us,” Attebery said. “It was also intended to reach out to the region.”
Attendees will be greeted with several different ways to enjoy the event. A Tourist Ticket – $40 when purchased early and $45 the week of the event – will gain you access to the wine and brew areas and the concert area as well as food trucks and vendors. This ticket also comes with a souvenir tasting glass and tote.
New this year is a VIP World Traveler ticket – $60 early and $65 the week of the event. In addition to everything included with a Tourist Ticket, VIPs will have access to exclusive wines, bourbon, tequila and moonshine as well as Hors d’oeuvres, VIP parking and VIP seating and restrooms.
Those who wish to attend the event without participating in the tastings can do so with a $15 Weekender ticket. This will include access to the food trucks and vendors as well as the live entertainment, which includes Brad Blackwell and Rusty Clark.
As Sanders reflects on the growth of the event, she is most proud of the way the Wine and Brew Festival and other events have brought Downtown Kingsport together.
“Seeing everyone collaborate on a large project like this, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, and it really does take a village to make it happen,” she said.
For more information on the festival, visit kingsportwineandbrew.com.