Wine + Food Festival mum on spokeswoman departure

Cathryn Zommer, former communications director of the Wine + Food Festival. Wade Spees/Staff Photographed at the Wine + Food Festival office downtown on Monday, March 31, 2014

Enough Pie today announced it had hired Cathryn Zommer away from the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, but the circumstances surrounding the former communications director’s departure remain unclear.

Festival director Gillian Zettler, who apparently shared the news with City Paper, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment; her e-mail account is set to generate an out-of-office message. And each of the five board members contacted by The Post & Courier – representing one-third of the board’s membership – either declined to discuss festival matters or didn’t return messages.

The Wine + Food Festival in late 2013 hired Zettler to succeed founder Angel Postell as its executive director. Zommer, who worked in global marketing during her decade in New York City, joined the staff just before the 2014 festival.

According to the release from Enough Pie, a non-profit art organization, Zommer focused on cultivating international interest in the festival and forging community partnerships during her stint as spokeswoman. She also came up with the campaign to promote the “X” that served as the tenth anniversary edition’s insignia.

Zommer didn’t return a message seeking comment.

Board members cited various reasons for refusing interview requests. Board chair Johnny Wallace is recovering from surgery; treasurer Melonie Hammond-Trace is swamped with taxes; vice-chair Randall Goldman is attending to events at his properties and immediate past chair Rick Jerue says he “has not been fully involved this past year.” Suzanne Wallace didn’t respond to a message.

The staffing announcement followed yesterday’s release of the festival’s economic impact study and visitor survey report. While resignations in the sports world invariably follow losing seasons, nothing in the documents suggested the event underperformed in a way that would necessitate a shakeup: Attendance was essentially flat at 23,500, or 500 more people than the event attracted in 2013. Economic impact was valued at $9.3 million, exceeding last year’s revised figure by $1 million (but falling short of the $10.7 million generated in 2013.)

A complete financial accounting is typically not released until later in the year.