A showcase of North Carolina wineries and breweries will uncork in downtown Mount Airy on May 6, when the eighth-annual Budbreak event is scheduled.
The intent behind the Budbreak Wine and Craft Beer Festival is to celebrate a new growing season in the Yadkin Valley with wine, beer, food and live music.
And organizers say this will be accomplished in a big way with the upcoming event, to be held from noon to 6 p.m. on May 6 along a section of North Main Street from Oak Street to Independence Boulevard. It will be closed to vehicular traffic for the festival.
In 2016, Budbreak attendance was estimated at 2,200 to 2,500, “another stellar year,” said event coordinator Bob Meinecke of the Mount Airy Rotary Club that sponsors the festival.
“And this year it should be even better,” Meinecke said Thursday. “It looks like the weather’s going to be cooperative,” as indicated by the long-range forecast.
Budbreak, which Meinecke describes as a “boutique” type of festival based on its appeal to a specialized audience, will feature 17 wineries and four breweries — all from North Carolina.
The format of Budbreak involves vendors pouring samples and selling their products while interacting with customers.
Participating wineries include Chestnut Trail, Childress, Elkin Creek, Fiddler’s, Ginger Creek, Herrera, JOLO, Lake James Cellars, Native Vines, Old North State, Round Peak, Slightly Askew, Southern Charm, Surry Cellars, Thistle Meadow, Waldensian Heritage and Westbend.
Seven of those, about 40 percent of the total, are based in Surry County.
Other wineries to be represented are located in Winston-Salem, Cherryville, Mocksville, Taylorsville, Valdese and elsewhere.
The participating breweries include Angry Troll, Foothills, Skull Camp and Westbend.
“We’ve got some new ones as well as some returning ones,” Meinecke said of the vendor list.
He added that the number of breweries was increased to four for this year, while pointing out that the festival’s growth is somewhat restricted.
“We’re limited in the number of vendors we can have in that space (on North Main) because of fire marshal regulations,” Meinecke explained Thursday, “so it’s about the same size every year.”
Bands to perform
A popular attraction of Budbreak is live music and dancing.
This year’s talent lineup features the folk-rock band Time Sawyer, which will be the opening act on the festival’s music stage.
Phatt City, 10-member band that includes a full horn section, will perform afterward with an array of rhythm and blues and beach music.
“We’re going to have a brand-new parking lot to hold it on,” Meinecke said of Budbreak’s musical component. He was referring to the municipal-owned lot beside Old North State Winery where a renovation project began earlier this year to address badly needed repairs.
“It’s going to be more attractive than it was before,” Meinecke said of the new curbing and other features resulting.
The local restaurant 13 Bones will serve barbecue, complementing the offerings at restaurants along North Main Street.
Tickets for the Budbreak Wine and Craft Beer Festival cost $15 in advance and $20 at the gate.
Non-tasting tickets are available for $5. Packages are offered which include admission for two, lodging, transportation to and from the event and a bottle of wine. Persons interested can obtain more information and tickets at www.BudbreakFestival.com.
Boost for charity
In addition to showcasing the state’s wine and beer industry, proceeds from Budbreak benefit local service organizations.
“In just the last two years, we have given $45,000 to charities,” Meinecke said.
The list includes the United Fund of Surry, a clearinghouse for a number of public service organizations in the area; the local Shepherd’s House homeless shelter; and schools, among others.
Also, the Mount Airy Rotary Club diverts some of the proceeds to international charities of the Rotary organization, including one involved with polio eradication.
Budbreak serves to allow money to flow into the local economy overall, according to Meinecke.
“The wine industry is a big part of tourism, which supports our community,” he said, citing the attracting of out-of-town visitors. “And we add a lot to the economy, because people stay here for several days.”
Meinecke believes Budbreak has been a good fit for Mount Airy.
“We’re in the heart of the largest wine-growing area in the state, we have a strong musical heritage and the mountains are our backdrop for it all,” he explained.
“The festival incorporates all of those key factors for our area.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.