Who says wine and beer don’t mix? Certainly not organizers of the seventh-annual Budbreak Wine and Craft Beer Festival in downtown Mount Airy, where a successful pairing of the two will continue this weekend.
Budbreak is scheduled Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. — to be concentrated in the section of North Main Street from Oak Street to Independence Boulevard, which will be closed to motorized traffic during the event.
Seventeen wineries and three craft breweries will be represented, the festival director, Bob Meinecke, said Monday.
Meinecke said this features a statewide winery presence, including Chatham Hill Winery from Cary.
“Chestnut Trail (Vineyards) is a new one that’s joining us this year,” he said of another winery based in Mocksville.
Others will come from Surry County and several from the greater Yadkin Valley area.
In addition to Chatham Hill and Chestnut Trail, this year’s participating wineries are Childress, Elkin Creek, Fiddler’s, Ginger Creek, Herrera, Lake James Cellars, Native Vines, Old North State, Round Peak, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, Slightly Askew, Southern Charm, Surry Cellars, Thistle Meadow and Waldensian Heritage.
Craft breweries to participate include Foothills, Lake Norman and Skull Camp.
This is the third year the event is including craft beer, an addition that Meinecke says has been accompanied by a boost in attendance of nearly 50 percent — a reflection of the public’s growing demand for that beverage.
The Budbreak name refers to the time of year when grapevines wake from their winter slumber and produce new buds. The festival celebrates the birth of a new vintage by inviting people to come downtown; sample offerings from the vineyards and craft breweries; interact with vintners, winemakers and brewers; and enjoy live music.
Attendees are issued armbands that allow them access to all the winery/brewery stations set up in the festival area.
The charity event sponsored by the Mount Rotary Club has grown steadily over time, in terms of both representation by the business segments it seeks to promote as well as attendance.
“We estimated about 2,500 last year,” Meinecke said of the 2015 turnout, which was aided by beautiful weather. Partly sunny conditions and highs in the upper 70s are predicted for this Saturday.
Food and entertainment will add extra flavor to the proceedings, including a local restaurant, 13 Bones, having a variety of barbecue offerings available.
Two musical groups also will play. A folk-rock band, Time Sawyer, will have the first set, and Phatt City is scheduled to come on later with a performance featuring a full horn section that specializes in rhythm and blues and beach music.
“The Budbreak festival showcases the interaction between food, wine and music,” Meinecke added. “And people who come out appreciate that experience.”
Meinecke describes the festival as “a boutique event” that tends to attract a well-behaved crowd in a secure setting. “It’s not just this wild party of youngsters,” he said in countering a stereotype surrounding gatherings that involve alcoholic beverages.
“We have purposely tried to attract people who have an appreciation for food and wine.”
However, a group of protesters is expected to be on hand, which has been the case since Budbreak began.
Meinecke said he has learned from the police department that a permit was requested for the protest, which will be limited to the northern side of Independence Boulevard.
Last year, church representatives at that location said they were concerned about the harm caused by alcohol and also were there simply to honor Jesus Christ.
Thousands for charity
Meinecke is proud of the legacy established by Budbreak in terms of promoting two growing industries and the money it generates for various charitable causes supported by the Rotary Club.
He said 100 percent of the proceeds — which totaled $28,000 last year — annually go to those causes, including the Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, the United Fund of Surry, Boy Scouts of America, reading programs, disease-eradication efforts and others.
Along with benefiting downtown merchants, the festival aids area lodging establishments, since some out-of-town visitors will stay over, and other businesses.
“So it helps the local economy,” Meinecke said.
Tickets for Budbreak cost $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Non-tasting tickets are $5. Packages are offered that include admission for two, local accommodations, transportation to and from the event and a bottle of wine.
Advance tickets are available at all North Carolina locations of Lowes Foods (through Wednesday), the Internet site www.BudbreakFestival.com (until Friday at 3 p.m.) and from local Rotary Club members.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.