Jekyll Island debuts festival with food, wine and critters

Jekyll Island is hosting the Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife festival. (Provided)

Jekyll Island later this month is taking its first crack at a food and wine festival, and many of the featured players are familiar: Rodney Scott of Scott’s BBQ; Griffin Bufkin of Southern Soul Barbecue; Daniel Doyle of Poogan’s Porch and Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell of High Wire Distilling Co. are listed among the talent. But also appearing at this event are alligators and sea turtles.

“Wildlife was incorporated into the event as a way to help create some awareness for Jekyll Island’s unique brand as a state owned park,” festival co-founder and director Jan Gourley says. “We simply didn’t want it to be another ‘Food & Wine’ festival.”

So think of Whiskey, Wine and Wildlife (the official nickname is W3) as a cross between the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition and Charleston Wine + Food: In addition to cooking demos, whiskey tastings and wine seminars, the Apr. 22-24 festival will include talks about animals by Georgia Sea Turtle Center staff. At the Friday night party, featuring whiskey-inspired cocktails and dishes, Gourley says, “researchers will be walking around with animals for some interactive demos.”

Tickets to the festival, which benefits the Jekyll Island Foundation, are priced from $35 (for admission to one of a slate of 45-minute classes, including “Craft Brewing in Georgia” and “White Asparagus and Wine”) to $365, which buys an all-access pass. For more information, visit