‘Spirits of Summer’ comes to Winston-Salem
In just a couple of weeks, the streets of downtown Winston-Salem will be filled with the Spirits of Summer. The festival, which is a collaboration of TW Garner Foods and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership takes the best of Salute! NC Wine Celebration and the Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival. The inaugural Texas Pete Spirits of Summer Festival will be held on Saturday, June 2 from noon to 6 p.m.
Salute had always been a popular event for winemakers and wine lovers. With wineries lining the footprint, about 8,000 visitors attended, but many suggested the small music scene needed to be amped up. The downtown area already enjoys a great food scene, as the festival had a chef demonstration tent, and the groundwork was there to make Salute! something more.
That’s where TW Garners comes in. Its popular Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival enjoyed a couple of awesome years of celebrating local food and music. Officials with the company and DWSP came together to add the best of both festivals’ worlds, and to give the people what they want: food, drink, and music in the City of Arts and Innovation.
“Salute was a wonderfully successful event for 12 years,” DWSP’s Mary Charlotte Hinkle said. “But it was time to create new life into it. The community and the participating vendors seem to be excited about the changes and the new format.”
What’s different? Fourteen local restaurants (and counting) will be cooking up their best menu items for festival goers in Restaurant Pavilion on the 4th Street block between Spruce and Poplar Streets. Hinkle said this is where it gets interesting for food-lovers who want to get a taste of the local scene.
“Restaurants will offer full-size menu items as well as a smaller sample size option,” Hinkle said. “We really wanted to spotlight the talent of our local chefs and give patrons the opportunity to see what these restaurants have to offer.”
All food is sold and purchased directly from each restaurant and is not included in the festival ticket price.
If you’ve attended Salute! in the past, you know that North Carolina wineries have always offered tastings and purchase of their harvest, but this year there will be beer along the festival as well.
“Beer lovers can also find their niche as several North Carolina craft breweries will offering tastings and purchases of their brews,” Hinkle told me.
Purchase of a $25 ticket provides each guest with a wristband, tasting punch card, and a commemorative glass. “The wristband and tasting punch card give you access to taste and sample beer and wine at each vendor one time,” Hinkle said.
Individual vendors will determine the number of samples before they punch your punch card.
A feature during each Salute! has been the NC Food and Wine University Tent, where select downtown chefs are featured during a cooking demonstration along with a wine pairing. This year’s newly minted Lowe’s Foods Demo Tent is back to “de-mystify beer and wine.” Once again, managed and hosted by yours truly, we have a great line-up of local chefs who’ll be showing “students” how to cook a dish from home, with the featured ingredient, Texas Pete sauce. Each dish presented will also be paired with a featured North Carolina wine and craft brewery, and each wristband-wearing guest at the tent will be able to sample the beer and wine being featured.
The chef, brewer and winemaker will share how the beer and wine bring out the best in our dishes. And who knows, you might also win a chance to taste the chef’s creation! Chefs will be featured at the bottom of the hour throughout the festival. Here’s the line-up so far and be sure to check the Spirits of Summer website for the featured dishes that will be announced before gate time:
12:30 p.m.– Chef Claire Calvin of The Porch Kitchen & Cantina/Alma Mexicana Restaurant with Hoots Beer Co. and Starrlight Mead
1:30 p.m.– Chef Vanessa Lanier of Providence Restaurant and Providence Culinary Training (formerly known as Triad Community Kitchen) with Hanover Park Vineyard and a North Carolina craft beer
2:30 p.m.– An all-local Chef Showdown in the style of Food Network’s Chopped with Chef Mark Grohman of Meridian Restaurant and Lowe’s Foods Executive Chef Joe Marchesiello with North Carolina Wine and Beer
3:30 p.m.– Chef John Tharp, Trade Street Diner with Round Peak Vineyards and Skull Camp Brewery
4:30 p.m.– Pastry Chef Brittany McGee of The Humble Bee Shoppe with Raylen Vineyards and a North Carolina craft beer
Be sure to stop by and say hello, take a seat, and learn a bit more about how each chef’s dish and the featured wine or beer pair together. This is always a popular feature of the festival, and we love hosting it. The Lowe’s Foods Demo Tent will be set up in the Texas Pete HQ parking lot at 4th and Poplar Streets.
The music this year will be set up on 4th Street in front of Foothills Brewing not far from the demo tent. The daytime line-up will feature the beach music with Special Occasion Band from noon to 3 p.m.; Dom Flemons (co-founder of Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops) from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then as the festival wraps up, the Foothills Brewing After-Party Concert will feature one of the most popular party bands, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. The after-party takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and beer and wine will be sold on-site.
Vendors are still being added, and volunteers are always needed. Check the website for updates.
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
Advance Tickets: $25, day of event: $30. To purchase in advance, visit spiritsofsummer.com The festival gates open at noon. Valid ID is required for tastings. Tastings end at 5 p.m. You’ll still be able to purchase beer or wine until 6 p.m. Spirits of Summer is a rain or shine event.