Folks tasting craft beer at the seventh-annual Budbreak Wine and Craft Beer Festival on Saturday may have picked up a new skill: how to drink beer out of a wine glass.
Festival goers paid $15 advance or $20 at the gate to receive a wristband and souvenir wine glass with which to taste the offerings from any – or all – of the 17 wineries and three breweries represented.
Non-tasting tickets were available for $5.
“People think it’s strange, drinking beer out of a wine glass,” said Corey Moore, pouring beer under the Round Peak Vinyards and Skull Camp Brewing tent.
“It’s unorthodox, but it tastes the same.”
The addition of craft breweries are among the features of the annual festival that continues to draw crowds, despite a bleak weather forecast.
‘Things are going well,” said Anne Webb, a co-chair of the event, which is hosted by and a fundraiser for the Mount Airy Rotary Club.
“Everybody seems to be having a good time,” she said. “People are laughing, the street looks full, admissions are steady.”
The festival serves as the local service organization’s primary fundraiser of the year.
Webb said a total amount raised this year would be calculated after gathering ticket pre-sales by members and local businesses.
“Pre-sales have been good, and there have been a lot of last-minute tickets sold,” she said.
“The important thing is that Mount Airy Rotary is so generous in supporting local projects and international projects,” said Webb, naming more than a few organizations.
They included the Surry Arts Council, The Mount Airy Museum or Regional History, the Shepherd’s House homeless shelter, a literacy effort at local elementary schools and the Interact club at five area high schools.
Webb and other Rotary leaders seemed unconcerned about the small group of protesters gathered at the corner of Independence and North Main Street outside the festival perimeters.
“We believe this is America,” where folks enjoy freedom of speech, Webb said.
The numbers inside the festival enjoying the wine, beer, food and live music by Time Sawyer and Phatt City far outnumbered those carrying signs of protest.
“We’ve had a wonderful response from tourists,” Webb said. “The furthest was California. They heard about Budbreak and they came.”
Ken Gulaian, owner of Round Peak Vinyards and Skull Camp Brewery and former festival board member, said driving tourism was a goal from the beginning.
“We do this one because we’re in Mount Airy. Normally we go not where we are because we’re getting our name out there,” said Gulaian, whose businesses are located in Mount Airy and Elkin.
“One thing that’s nice about this festival is that it does draw from beyond Surry County.”
Gulaian also noted the “improved ambiance” of Budbreak, with added features such as the live music stage and tent with tables and chairs for guests.
“It’s just a nice festival,” he said, estimating attendance was about the same as last year. “We worried about the weather, but I don’t think it’s had a significant impact so far.”
Basil and Beverly Edwards had traveled from Radford, Virginia, to experience the festival.
“Since we became empty-nesters we’re doing things we always wanted to do but didn’t have the time,” Basil Edwards said. They had attended last year and noted the quality of the live music.
“Closing down Main Street adds a flavor to it,” he said. “It’s a cool little town with a good vibe.”
The couple has a system for wine festivals: try just a few before buying a bottle of one they like.
“I don’t want to drink all the wine,” Beverly Edwards said.
On Saturday, they picked a bottle from Childress Vinyards and pulled a couple of lawn chairs under a tree in the Main Street parking lot near the stage.
Basil Edwards said, “We sit down, and listen to music and chill.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.