CHENANGO COUNTY — Commerce Chenango held their first ever Chenango County Wine, Beer, Food Festival on Saturday, July 30, and the event saw over 700 attendees.
"We believe we had about 700 people there throughout the day. We had planned for about 500 so it exceeded our expectations for the first year. It was amazing," said Commerce Chenango President and CEO Kerri Green. "Day of ticket sales were incredible. It was nonstop from the moment we opened the gate, and pretty steady I would say until 4 [p.m.]."
Green said some attendees travelled in from outside of Chenango County, from the Syracuse and Saratoga areas, with some even coming from out of state, from Connecticut and New Jersey.
The festival was host to about ten beer and wine vendors, 11 food vendors, 22 crafters and artisans, and performances by the Jason Wicks Band and the Nate Gross Band.
Although it was the inaugural event, Green said it has been a resounding success, with attendees providing positive feedback and vendors reporting strong sales.
"Everybody has been overwhelmingly positive. The vendors had a great turnout. I know Merritt Winery especially, they sold out and they sold every bottle of wine that they brought for sale. I know Coyote Moon did very well. I know all the drink vendors did very, very well; the food vendors did well," she said.
Plans are already in the works for next year's Wine, Beer, Food Festival — slated for Saturday, July 29 — and the plan moving forward is to hold the event on the last Saturday in July every year. Green said several vendors have already signed on to return next year, and vendors who weren't able to attend this year have their names on the docket for the 2023 festival.
Additionally, organizers have already begun brainstorming ideas to expand and enhance the next event.
"We're already looking at things to maybe add and change for next year, just to add a few enhancements," Green explained. "You know, do more with the VIP area, we’re talking about doing things like making sure that there’s some sort of outdoor activities like cornhole boards outside to make it more of a fun deal, definitely a lot more seating. But little things like that that we want to do just to add some enhancements. But definitely using this as a good launch for next year."
Those who attended the festival are welcome to provide feedback on their experience by sending an email through the ChenangoWBFFest.com website, the Chenango County Wine, Beer, Food Festival Facebook page, or by contacting the Commerce Chenango office.
"We’re always open to options. If you have an idea for something next year, or if there was something not there that you wish you saw, please let us know. Like I said, we’re taking a look at everything, we want to make some enhancements and just make the event better moving forward," said Green. "But I would say for the first-time event, having never done anything like that before, it was really well done and people really had a great time. So we’ll just look to move forward from there."
Green expressed her gratitude to the many people that made the event possible, including sponsors, volunteers, the Chenango County Emergency Management Office, and the Norwich Police Department.
"A big thank you to all of the sponsors and the volunteers and the people that made the day possible. Everybody just really pitched in to help. Chenango County Emergency Management had somebody onsite all day, and we had no emergencies thankfully. Norwich Police Department had people there all day and we had no issues," she said. "Everybody was really respectful, everybody had a lot of fun, our vendors did really well. It was just really a wonderful, wonderful day."