ELKIN — Despite the dire weather reports all week leading up to the 17th-annual Yadkin Valley Wine Festival in Elkin, the clouds cleared and the sun shone, making it a picture-perfect day.
“Gary Maxey was smiling on us, and he called in some favors,” was what Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce President Myra Cook attributed to the excellent weather.
Maxey, who passed earlier this year, was a big supporter of the festival and portrayed the wine god Bacchus each year at the event. On the same day of the event Maxey loved, his family and friends celebrated his life in his hometown in Illinois.
Cook said Maxey’s spirit was felt at the festival and aside from the loss of his smiling face dressed in his brilliant purple Bacchus regalia, she said the event was perfect.
“It was so good,” Cook said. “We’ve had so many people email us, text us, call us, stop us in the park the day of to say ‘this was perfect.’” The weather, the music, the vendors and, of course, the wine were all deemed “perfect” by attendees, Cook said.
“We’re just sitting around with smiles on our faces,” she said on Monday as they worked to estimate a final count of attendees and begin plans for the 2019 festival.
Cook also thanked all the volunteers, committee members, vendors and wineries for their continued support.
Grassy Creek winemaker and co-owner Jim Douthit was busy pouring samples of his wine on Saturday and said he, too, had been nervous about the weather but glad it all worked out to be a nice day.
“People are coming out and loving it because the temperature is just right, the crowd is not too heavy, and there are some really great wines to check out,” he said.
Wine lovers from near and far return each year to Elkin to take part in the festivities.
“It’s just a great time,” said Sean Mulligan. He flies in from southern California every spring to join his sister and her friends for the festival.
“There’s always great wine. We always meet the most wonderful people. You guys always put on a great event,” Mulligan said.
This year was extra special for one of Mulligan’s group, Holly Harmon of Greensboro, who was celebrating her 50th birthday along with her friends Tamara Christy, Jenny Poindexter, Margaret Barber and Robyn Watson.
The group of friends said the threat of rain couldn’t keep them away. After eight years of coming to the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, they learned to pack Cheez-its to snack on — and umbrellas, just in case.
Local resident Sara Monday also said after years of attending the wine festival, she had learned that snacking is important when spending the better part of the day sipping wine. She and her friends made pretzel necklaces to make snacking even easier.
“We’re veterans and after many failed attempts to get through this without consistent snacking, we discovered pretzel necklaces,” Monday said. “We make them and hopefully we’ll stay on our feet a little bit longer.”
Slightly Askew, Fish Hippie and Weathervane were just a few of Monday’s favorites.
“Skull Camp’s always so good, too,” she added. “They’re all great.”
With this year’s festival coinciding with the much anticipated royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, many attendees had donned hats for the occasion.
Cheryl McKesson and Alice Boyd were among those wearing hats, which they purchased from the Hats for Hospice tent. The two women, who hail from South Carolina, said they were happy to support the fundraiser for such a good cause and come away with stylish accessories for the festival
They said, however, that they slept in and missed watching the wedding, which aired around 7 a.m. on Saturday.
“We saved our energy for wine tasting,” the friends said with a laugh.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.