“A lot of events are wine and food events, but we make sure that [this] is a food and wine event, because it is heavier on the food than it is the alcohol,” Our Carolina Foothills director Mindy Wiener says of the Taste of Our Carolina Foothills festival. A group of roughly 50 regional wineries, chefs, artisans and craft breweries from the Carolina foothills area, which is composed of Landrum, S.C., Saluda, Columbus and Tryon, will gather Sunday, Sept. 18, to serve an array of palate-pleasing offerings.
Now in its third iteration, the 2016 event features a few changes. Most notably, in order to accommodate the event’s growing attendance, Taste has relocated from its previous digs at Overmountain Vineyard to the more spacious environs at the Foothills Equestrian and Nature Center, also known as FENCE. “Space became our challenge with how to grow,” says Wiener. “We decided that FENCE was the best location to get everybody together and represent the towns. It’s right off of [Interstate 26 South Carolina] Exit 1. We’ve got a lot of people coming from Upstate [South Carolina], and we’ve got a lot of people coming down from Asheville, so it was a real easy choice.”
This year’s festival will also boast a wider variety of vendors. “This year we actually have a few farms that wanted to get in on the action, which we’re thrilled about because we are a big agricultural area,” says Wiener.
Wiener points out that guests can expect to find a bit more food on their plates at Taste than at other comparable events. “What we’ve heard in the past — and what we continue to pride ourselves on — is the portions,” she says. “Restaurants and caterers will be doing live cooking demonstrations at the event, and the portions are very large. That is one thing that’s resonated with people who have purchased tickets in the past.”
While strolling through the open-air festival, guests will be serenaded by both a jazz band and performances by Asheville musician Jackson Emmer. “It’s just a lovely opportunity for people to be outside in the country and to network,” says Weiner. “It is a good chance for our local businesses, who are smaller, who don’t have the ability to really market themselves to get out in a large group and reach new customers.”
Taste of Our Carolina Foothills takes place 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, 3381 Hunting Country Road, Tryon. Tickets are $45 in advance, $55 at the door. Advance tickets are available through eventbrite.com.