The Columbia Food and Wine Festival (put on by Free Times' events team with the help of a variety of partners) has announced a May return.
Last year, the festival was postponed, and was eventually forced to move from the spring to the fall and reduce its scope to an outdoor dinner and brunch due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year's festivities, set for May 20-23, will replicate the same satellite events that were slated to be a part of last year’s iteration — among them a Five Points dinner, a charcuterie event and a West Columbia restaurant dinner. The main event will be held at the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Robert Mills Estate on May 23 and feature more than 40 food businesses offering small plates and pours.
“We are excited to celebrate not only the talent that the Columbia region boasts in a festival atmosphere again, but also to recognize the resiliency of the Midlands hospitality industry,” said Chase Heatherly, chief revenue officer and publisher of Free Times, in a press release announcing the event.
Plans for the events include a COVID-19 safety plan that involves expanded registration and expanded tent space to facilitate social distancing, checking all guest temperatures, and providing masks and hand sanitizer for attendees.
“The Columbia Food and Wine Festival team was among the first to host an in-person event in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic," Heatherly said. "We conducted thorough health and safety measures and received positive feedback from those in attendance. This year, we will continue the same health and safety plan along with further social distancing measures. With those efforts, combined with the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, we feel comfortable moving forward with the festival in late May.
"This event, like others is optional for those who live in our region. We look forward to hosting a safe event for those who feel comfortable attending the festival.”
Beyond the aforementioned satellite events, there are four others: a barbecue event, a dinner on the runway of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, a Ladies Who Lunch event focused on female chefs, and a heavy metal-themed brunch.
Each of the events features chefs and bartenders from the city’s top restaurants, including Terra’s Mike Davis, Black Rooster and Bourbon’s Kristian Niemi, Motor Supply Company Bistro’s Wes Fulmer and Rosalind Graverson from Lula Drake Wine Parlour and Craft and Draft Irmo.
Tickets are available starting March 22 at columbiafoodandwinefestival.com
This year’s return for the Food and Wine Festival comes as many events in the area have announced plans to come back in some form. The Gervais Street Bridge Dinner recently received full approval to hold its 1,000-person fundraising dinner on May 2 — after a narrowly decided Columbia City Council vote — and the Rosewood Crawfish Festival is also planning to hold its event at the State Fairgrounds on May 1.
In the Lowcountry, the larger and longer-lived Charleston Food and Wine Festival — which in the past has drawn upwards of 28,000 people — was postponed until 2022 due to the pandemic.