The Williamsburg Taste Festival kicked off Thursday, and the president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance is pleased with what she’s seen so far.
She’s also excited about what’s to come.
“We have a lot going on this weekend,” Karen Riordan said. “There is always a ton to do [in town], but hopefully people will want to come check out at least one of these events.”
The Williamsburg Taste Festival began Thursday with the Culinary Kick-Off. Attendees entered the Stryker Center to the sounds of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra and the sights of local artists, whose work was hung in the gallery.
Craft beverages and hors d’oeuvres from local producers were also on hand.
“It was a perfect combination of culinary art, fine art and performing art,” Riordan said. “It was really cool. We’ll never done an event like that before. We have so many talented artists — some work in food and some work in charcoal.”
Riordan said more than 100 people attended, which was a capacity crowd.
“It was really well attended and set a really nice tone,” for the rest of the festival, Riordan said. “I think people left there feeling really good about seeing some other stuff this weekend.”
While three of the taste festival’s Thursday events were cancelled, Riordan said she is confident the remaining events will be well-received by both guests and participating restaurants, brewers and artists.
The taste festival continues at 5:30 p.m. Friday with Street Beats in front of the Stryker Center and Williamsburg Community Building, which will offer guests yard games and live music from local artists. One local artist, Timbason la Original, is fronted by Jose Lorenzo, who also owns a new restaurant in York County. He also contributed a painting of fruit and flowers for the Culinary Arts Kickoff.
Food and drinks will be available at a cash bar Friday, and local food vendors include Old City BBQ, La Tienda, Retro’s, and Get Together Vintage Popcorn and Candy, as well as food trucks Prost, VA Blue Crab Co. and Jabellz.
Riordan said there is capacity for 350 guests at Street Beats. More than 100 tickets are still available and can be purchased at the door door with no surcharge.
The heart of the event, Riordan said, is Saturday’s Culinary Village, which will offer samples from local food and beer vendors. Some of the vendors are restaurants that logistically cannot support their own event at the festival, but the Village will allow them to showcase their menus, Riordan said.
“If people leave without being well fed, I don’t understand how that could happen,” Riordan said. “I’m not eating anything tomorrow for breakfast. It’s going to be a 5,000 calorie day.”
(A complete list of food and beverage vendors for the Culinary Village are provided below.)
The cost is $55 for adults and the event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the tent in front of the Williamsburg Community Building on Boundary Street. More than 100 tickets were available as of Friday morning.
Amber Ox Public House and Billsburg Brewery are also hosting their own events as part of the festival Saturday at their establishments. Billsburg will host the Two Drummers Offbeat Eats, Black Pearl and Karnage Asada food trucks, and Amber Ox will offer a four-course dinner made from local ingredients.
Artist Sammy Lee will close Saturday’s festivities with cigars and glasses of whiskey and bourbon in front of the Stryker Center.
Admission is $45, which includes a drink, a custom rocks glass and two cigars.
Guests will go to school Sunday with the final event of the festival. Beer U. — a panel of five local brewmasters, including those from Alewerks, Billsburg, Brass Cannon, Virginia Beer Co. and Amber Ox’s Precarious Beer Project — will discuss all things beer.
[Editor’s note: The event will be moderated by Tom Davis, president of WYDaily’s parent company Local Voice Media.]
Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door.
“For pretty much every palate there will be something there,” Riordan said.
The following companies and organizations will be represented at Saturday’s Culinary Village, Riordan said:
Big Island Aquaculture: oysters on the half shell and oyster shooters
Border Springs Farm: lamb and roast beef sliders
Fat Tuna: fried Wontons
Revolution Golf: fried pickles
Extraordinary Cupcakes: cupcakes
Sal’s by Victor: baked ziti
Tuscany: tiramisu and broccoli rabe
Military: Buffalo chicken deviled eggs/shrimp, pineapple and mango skewers/Southwestern chicken egg rolls
Allure: baked items
Chef’s Go: auction
WARA Table: raffle
Precarious Beer Project
Virginia Beer Co.
Silver Hand Meadery
8 Shires Coloniale
SHOP & PLAY TENT
La Tienda: paella
Belle Isle Moonshine: drinks
The Neighborhood Harvest: produce
The Farm Life: elderberry and kombucha
Cake 5 Designs: cake
Loose Leaf Tea Co.: tea
LMP Food Group: honey
Milton’s Local: sausage and bacon
MOTHER Shrub: beverage mixers
Salsas Don Sebastian: salsa
Peace Frog: shirts and merchandise
VA is for Lovers: VTC Merchandise
Earth Fare: TBD samples and coupons
Christianne’s Creations: glassware
Creative Gifts by Chrissy: culinary accessories
Historic Garden Club of Williamsburg