Thousands sampled local wines, beer and food at the Capital Food and Wine Festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
The event on a blustery Saturday featured 41 wineries and 19 breweries serving craft beer. Several restaurants whipped up food such as paella, oysters, barbecue and pasta. The headline entertainer was country artist Nick Nicholson.
Hawks Prairie residents Brad and Tina Griffith enjoyed sampling wine.
“In normal everyday life, you don’t go to the store and buy 16 bottles of wine and then go home and do samples,” said Tina Griffith, whose favorite was the 2010 Eclipse Red Blend from Palouse Winery in Vashon. “It was really smooth and well rounded.”
The festival generates $60,000 to $70,000 every year, said University President Roy F. Heynderickx. Proceeds benefit the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association, which uses the money to support programs such as student scholarships and athletic programs.
Al Eckroth was involved in the festival’s inception 25 years ago and estimates 100,000 people have attended over the years. Gov. Booth Gardener spoke at the inaugural event back on Oct. 28, 1989, and made a proclamation naming that day as Charlie Daniels Day in honor of the famous country singer who performed.
Eckroth said the festival has fulfilled the original vision of creating a community-building “block party” to benefit the college.
“It really highlights and illuminates what our region, our state, our city and our area have to offer — wonderful Washington wines, great local food,” he said. “I’m very proud of it.”
People flowed through the Marcus Pavilion all day to sample wine, beer and food amid the mellow backdrop of live acoustic music.
One of the wine pourers was Northwest Mountain Winery of Olympia, whose most popular offering was a dessert wine called Dark Mountain Berry. For four years, the festival has brought more awareness and sales to the winery, winemaker Ray Curtis said.
“A lot of people here have never been to our winery,” Curtis said. “We love doing this every year.”