Shores of Erie International Wine Festival gearing up for 10th anniversary

 

Shores of Erie International Wine Festival committee chair Karen Gyorgy (left) and festival administrator Karen Wettlaufer (right) show a vase filled with sunflowers due to the promotion of this year's 10th anniversary festival having a sunflower theme. The theme is due to the initial wine festival having been financed in large part due to the sale of sunflowers.

Shores of Erie International Wine Festival committee chair Karen Gyorgy (left) and festival administrator Karen Wettlaufer (right) show a vase filled with sunflowers due to the promotion of this year’s 10th anniversary festival having a sunflower theme. The theme is due to the initial wine festival having been financed in large part due to the sale of sunflowers.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Shores of Erie International Wine Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with some big names and big surprises promised.

Tickets for the Sept. 4-7 festival are now on sale, released a month earlier than usual, and are already being snapped up by the public, said festival administrator Karen Wettlaufer. With the popular Canadian band Walk Off the Earth performing opening night and Serena Ryder the next night, tickets for both nights are moving briskly.

“Our ticket sales for Thursday and Friday are just about neck-and-neck,” Wettlaufer reported.

Wettlaufer also said three and four-day passes are also selling well, believing it is because of the varied events and activities that will be happening at the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival all four days.

“We’ve already sold a lot of three-day and four-day passes,” she said.

In addition to the musical entertainment, there will also be other television performers on hand. The wine festival, in co-operation with Sobeys, will be hosting Licensed to Grill host Rob Rainford in the culinary tent the Sunday of the festival. Wettlaufer notes the culinary tent will still be offered other days as well but Rainford’s appearance will be an additional feature of the festival.

“It’s another nice additional element to a laid-back Sunday afternoon,” said Wettlaufer.

Like the featured acts on the Thursday and Friday nights, Rainford is also Canadian. Wettlaufer said that is not a coincidence.

“We’re all about promoting Canadian talent,” she said.

Other features the wine festival has come to promote, such as the tasting bar and sampling from area wineries, will return as will a few surprises for the tenth anniversary. Those surprises will be announced in the coming weeks, organizers state.

Festival committee chair Karen Gyorgy added that sunflowers will have an added significance at this year’s festivals. Sunflowers appear on promotional materials and will be a common feature around the grounds at Fort Malden National Historic Site and Gyorgy said that the festival might not exist, at least not in its current form, without sunflowers.

Gyorgy explained that the initial group that attempted to promote the wine festival didn’t have a lot of money, even with a grant given by the town. She said a piece of land was donated to them by Dave Mailloux and committee members grew sunflowers on the land as a way to help raise money. Once the sunflowers were harvested and sold around town, they had raised $2,500 and used that money towards the first wine festival.

There were three wineries and seven restaurants at the first festival, which Gyorgy said lasted two-days. They expected 1,000 people but 7,000 ended up coming with restaurants running out of food and wineries running out of wine that year. The results of the first festival saw more wineries and restaurants line up to participate in subsequent years and the rest is history.

“Without (the sunflowers), I’m not sure we would have ended up where we are,” said Gyorgy.

Gyorgy added that out of the 125 volunteers the first festival have, about 75 of them are still with the festival ten years later. Four original committee members still remain as well.

Tickets are $25 for Thursday, $25 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday. Three-day passes are $60 and four-day passes are $80. For more information, call 519-730-1001 or visit www.soewinefestival.com.

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