Friday, February 3, 2023

Coming This Fall: Five Days of Food and Drinks at Williamsburg Harvest Celebration

harvestcelebrationFood and alcohol lovers will have much to be thankful for this November, when a new five-day celebration of high cuisine, beer, wine and art plays out at sites throughout the Historic Triangle.

The celebration is the brainchild of Cindy McGann and the Williamsburg Winery’s Patrick Duffeler, who have been working together for more than two years to bring a wine and food event to the area.

The result of their work is the Williamsburg Harvest Celebration, which will bring together area restaurants, breweries and wineries.

The five-day celebration will run from Nov. 11 to 15. It has attracted sponsors that include the three Historic Triangle localities and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, which are all joining the Williamsburg Winery to stage the event.

“Williamsburg has got a unique opportunity, because it has an established winery,” McGann said. “November is harvest season, so we wanted a name that could be used to bring together [all three Triangle localities].”

The winery will play host to a signature event for the celebration, which will be held Nov. 14., a Saturday. The James City County-based winery will turn into an open house for the event, featuring tasting rooms and food, McGann said.

Other events will be held in Yorktown, Williamsburg and throughout James City County, including food demos from chefs, dinners featuring Virginia foods, a bacon-themed Sunday dinner, a tapas crawl in New Town and live music at the Freight Shed paired with oysters grown in the state.

People who want to attend any of the events can buy tickets à la carte, with prices ranging from $25 to $150.

McGann said she was inspired by the fact that there is little in the way of similar celebrations on the East Coast, with events like the celebration currently taking place in distant places like New York City and in the Pacific Northwest.

Karen Riordan, the president and CEO of the Alliance, said she wants the celebration to turn into a major event in the Historic Triangle that people come to identify with Williamsburg.

“This was something that fit very nicely with ideas I already had about where we needed to go around arts and culinary, so when I heard about the vision and this idea to do something like this, I said ‘This is the perfect vehicle,’” she said.

She pointed to the Charleston Wine + Food celebration in South Carolina, where McGann has volunteered in the past. That event has succeeded in drawing more than 20,000 people to Charleston each year.

“We certainly aspire to bring thousands of people here,” she said. “We know it’s going to take time.”

To market the celebration, the organizers will take to the pages of Garden and Gun and the Local Palete, two magazines with distributions across the Southern U.S. There will also be radio advertisements on yet-to-be-determined stations and a 32-page color insert in the Williamsburg House & Home magazine.

The celebration’s organizers have paired with the Virginia Tourism Corporation to place digital ads on websites like The Food Network’s official page to also try to gin up interest. Local hotels have agreed to offer deals for people who want to travel to the Triangle for the event, with sales expected to begin in June.

McGann said she hopes to sell 5,000 tickets to the 36 to 40 events that will be featured in the Harvest Celebration. Both Riordan and McGann want to make the celebration an annual event.

“We absolutely want this to be a signature event, where people mark their calendar and that they identify with Williamsburg,” Riordan said. “We also love the time of year, having it in the classic harvest time and right after Williamsburg Fall Arts and right before Christmas in Williamsburg.”

Correction: McGann volunteered at the Charleston Wine + Food festival. It draws more than 20,000 people per year.

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