Just as the budbreak on a grape vine inspires enthusiasm in a winemaker, the fourth festival held in downtown Mount Airy drew a sizable crowd for the express purpose of showing off some of the good things about the area.
The festival offered wine tastings and sales from 15 North Carolina wineries, multiple food vendors, local artists and musical entertainment. Proceeds from the event will benefit charity organizations supported by the Mount Airy Rotary Club, who partnered with the Downtown Business Association as event hosts.
“The chilly temperatures were not anticipated,” commented Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh. “This has been a good turnout that brings people together and that’s good for the area and for downtown. I have seen a lot of people from out of the area here today as well. This is a good event for a lot of friends and neighbors to get together as well. It helps support our businesses and that’s what we’re all about.”
Television personality Eric Chilton, a Mount Airy native, served as emcee for the event and echoed Marsh’s reactions to the festival.
“I think this is Mount Airy re-inventing itself to some extent,” said Chilton. “It’s time for the city to step up as a mid-sized venue where events can be held such as this celebration of wine which is a huge industry in North Carolina. Mount Airy is on the fringe of this and can pull persons from out of the area and infuse the economy.”
Previous years’ festivities included a wine competition, which was not part of this year’s festival. Bob Meinecke, organizer of the festival and member of the Mount Airy Rotary Club, earlier explained that omitting the competition from this year’s festival allowed the event to focus on enjoying and celebrating local wineries.
Meinecke earlier characterized the event is a “real collaborative effort” with the Downtown Business Association, who also hosted a sidewalk sale in conjunction with the wine festival so merchants have the opportunity to draw participants into their businesses.
Another important addition to the festival this year came in the form of a fundraiser to establish a scholarship for Surry Community College’s viticulture center spearheaded by Amadour Winery & Vineyard President David Chaloupka.
Chaloupka is a third generation vineyard operator and owner of Amadour Winery and Vineyards, which will open this fall in the Dobson area. He worked with the general manager of Fiat of the Triad out of Greensboro, Pamela Shelton, to secure a FIAT 2013 limited edition Abarth car that was on display at Budbreak. Chaloupka sold $100 raffle tickets for a chance to win the car.
Chaloupka said he wanted to support the viticulture program at Surry Community College because prior to this year, there was no scholarship program and he wanted to support the program and the community. He said the idea came to him from the Adopt-a-Vine program, hence the Adopt-a-Vineyard approach. Viticulture student Josh Willard was the recipient of the full scholarship for one semester at the college.
“This was our first year doing this but it’s important to us to do something good for the community,” added Chaloupka. “This is a business where every wine maker has its own pallet. It is also good for tourism in North Carolina. You can take ten different wineries with the same varietal and get ten different tastes. We are really trying to make a difference in the wine industry. It all goes back to great wine making.”
Platinum-level sponsors for the event included the title sponsor 100.9 WIFM as well as a sponsorship by Dr. Flippin’s Bed and Breakfast. Gold-level sponsors are wine glass sponsor CenturyLink and music sponsor Interlam. Silver-level sponsorships include food court sponsors SouthData, media sponsor Mount Airy Visitors Center, stage sponsor Renfro Corporation, ticket sponsor Surrey Bank & Trust, and entertainment sponsor Insteel Industries.
Bronze-level sponsors included event rental sponsor Cooke Rentals, water sponsor High Country Springs, sign sponsor Pine State Marketing, event transportation sponsor James River Equipment, advertising sponsor Perkins & Associates, promotion sponsor Duke Energy, lodging sponsor Hampton Inn, entertainment sponsors WorkForce Carolina and Buttonwood Chiropractic, as well as BB&T and Hodges Realty.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.