Saturday’s Delaware Wine and Beer Festival heads to Harrington

Mispillion River Brewing’s Jeremy Robbins, of Milford, hands out samples of “Wonka Bar” chocolate beer at last year’s Delaware Wine and Beer Festival in Dover. This year’s festival, the seventh annual, will take place at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. (Delaware State News file photo)

Mispillion River Brewing’s Jeremy Robbins, of Milford, hands out samples of “Wonka Bar” chocolate beer at last year’s Delaware Wine and Beer Festival in Dover. This year’s festival, the seventh annual, will take place at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. (Delaware State News file photo)

The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival is on the move this year.

In its seventh year, Saturday’s event is moving to the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington from its previous location at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover.

“We really weren’t looking for a new home,” said John Doerfler, event manager for Kent County Tourism Corp., producer of the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.

“But the Ag Museum is used for parking for Delaware State University’s homecoming festivities so it wasn’t going to be available.”

The move to the fairgrounds provides a larger area for the ever-growing festival, which saw its largest attendance with 3,500 people.

Best Bets logo -NEW“With the kind of feedback we were getting, we found that it has grown so much that we needed to find a bigger space,” Mr. Doerfler said.

“And the venue allows us to grow it even bigger year after year. I think it’s a real win for everyone.”

The festival will take place both inside and outside this year. The beer, wine and spirits will be available inside the Dover Building while entertainment and other festival events will be outside in the grandstand area.

“It seems to rain every year of the festival. So it kind of figures that they are expecting a beautiful day on Saturday when we now have the facilities to hold it indoors,” Mr. Doerfler joked.

Saturday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and a high around 66 degrees.

Mr. Doerfler said the increased space will allow for more elbow room, more parking and maybe most importantly, more bathrooms.

“As someone who attends quite a few beer festivals, I wanted to avoid the problems that I hate,” he said.

“So we have plenty of bathrooms this year and we’ll have a team of about 20 people at the noon kickoff to make sure people can get into the festival as efficiently as possible.”

Mr. Doerfler said long lines at individual beverage stops can sometimes be unavoidable but organizers will “do everything in our power” to help cut down the wait time as best they can.

This year’s festival will feature 25 local breweries, wineries and distilleries. Confirmed participants include Blue Earl Brewing, Brimming Horn Meadery. Mispillion River Brewing, Evolution Craft Brewing, Brickworks, Painted Stave Distilling, Harvest Ridge Winery, Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. and Beach Time Distilling.

The number of food vendors has increased this year, offering everything from wood-fired pizzas made to order to roasted corn, seafood and barbecue to a variety of desserts.

“We’ll definitely have a little of everything to fit everyone’s tastes,” Mr. Doerfler said.

This year’s entertainment features Philadelphia-based Dueling Pianos to kick off the day at noon with country-rocker Sam Grow finishing up the afternoon

Mr. Grow, from Southern Maryland, is a staple on the Delaware music scene, performing regularly at Dover’s Cowboy Up nightclub and other area festivals.

He has performed with Kanye West and toured with singer-songwriter Dave Yaden. His music style consists of acoustic music with soul as well as rock, pop, blues, jazz and country. Crowd favorites like “Is It You” and “Start This Car” have appeared on the Top 20 of iTunes.

“It’s great drinking music,” Mr. Doerfler said.

“You have a couple of beers and you can sing along with some fun piano songs and than you can rock it out with country and rock music to service all moods. We’re excited to have them both.”

This year’s festival will also feature a beercade, similar to what has recently been seen at the Firefly Music Festival, with games like Dance Dance Revolution, Pac-Man and foosball.

Another new wrinkle will be a pickle-themed cooking contest. Local food vendors will be on hand to compete using the theme ingredient of a pickled cucumber. Each dish will be presented to a panel of judges. Winners will receive a trophy and bragging rights.

“I think it will be a fun competition for all the folks to bring their culinary skills to the festival. I remember Delaware used to be home to quite a few cucumber plants and it’s an homage to what Delaware was known for at that point in time,” Mr. Doerfler said.

“I think pickles are up and coming. I make my own. I’m a huge fan.”

Another benefit of having the festival in Harrington is Mr. Doerfler hopes the location can bring in a wider variety of folks.

“We’re hoping we get more people from Maryland to come check out what a Delaware party is like. At the end of the day, we are showcasing a lot of what Delaware does so great,” he said.

Advance tickets are for sale at $35 until 11:30 tonight at www.delawarewineandbeerfestival.com. Tickets will be available at the gate for $40. Each ticket comes with 10 tastings and full pours will be available for purchase along with a wine store on site.

Non-alcoholic designated driver tickets are $10. The event runs until 5 p.m.

Cheesetoberfest winners

Saturday’s festival comes on the heels of last week’s Cheesetoberfest and Dover’s Fordham & Dominion Brewing in Dover.

Hundreds braved the rainy weather to check out the local brewery’s offerings and have their fill of grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese.

About 20 local restaurants served up their wares in the competition that was judged by a panel, including yours truly, and, new this year, attendees also had their say.

For the second year in row, The Little Grocer won the Grand Cheezmo grilled cheese trophy with Delaware Distilling Co. winning the Grand Cheezmo for its mac and cheese.

1861 and The Greene Turtle took home silver and bronze medals, respectively, for grilled cheese. Gary’s Dewey Beach Grill and Catch 54 won the silver and bronze, respectively, in the macaroni and cheese category.

Musical twinbill

The Delaware Friends of Folk will present back-to-back concerts tonight and Saturday.

Tonight, Friends of Folk present the second event in its 2016-17 Old State House concert series, inside the Old State House on The Green in Dover.

The free 7:30 show will feature Smyrna native Justin McNatt in a solo acoustic performance. Mr. McNatt has been writing and performing his own music for nearly 20 years. He started playing local open mics and coffee houses while still in high school.

On Saturday, Friends of Folk will present its monthly coffee house concert in the confines of the Bennett Chapel at Wesley College, Division and North Bradford streets in Dover beginning at 7:30 pm. Admission is $5 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk, $7 for non-members, and those 12 and younger are admitted free. Fresh-brewed coffee, baked cookies and other snacks will be available.

The featured act is the duo of Junior and Chatty — Junior Wilson and Chad Cooper. Mr. Wilson has been a musician since the age of 6 and performs on acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, steel guitar, keyboards and programmed tracks.

Over the years he has played in a number of groups, perhaps most notably The Cutters.

Another musician who got his start in the late ’60s, Mr. Cooper has a long history of recording and touring with artists as varied as B.B. King and Bill Deal and the Rhondels. Mr. does backing vocals and plays congas, bongos, and various world percussion instruments.

Opening the evening will be Jessica Graae, a Wilmington-based singer/songwriter. She has twice been a Delmarva Folk Hero finalist and has lived and performed in Washington, New York City, and Copenhagen. She blends her folk-rock style and classical training.

Gourmet Gala Saturday

Delaware Tech Terry Campus will hold its 13th annual Gourmet Gala, the campus’ premier fundraising event for student success, Saturday from 6 to 10:30 p.m. in the on-campus Del-One Conference Center.

The black tie-optional affair offers guests specialty food items and beverages from Delaware restaurateurs, brewers, vintners and distillers. In addition, To The Max, a club and dance band, will provide live entertainment. There will also be a silent auction and a raffle for a four-digit black and white license plate.

Tickets are $125 each and can be purchased at go.dtcc.edu/gourmetgala or by calling (302) 857-1125.

Funds generated by the Gourmet Gala support student success on the Terry Campus by enhancing the college’s ability to offer educational opportunities and activities for its student body, along with scholarships and the ability to purchase equipment to maintain classrooms and learning labs.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the comedy documentary “Kevin Hart: What Now,” the action-adventure film “Max Steel” and Ben Affleck in the crime drama “The Accountant.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “God’s Not Dead 2” and the animated “Ratchet and Clank.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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