More fun than whom?
Two local festivals are celebrating the end of the season
As the season comes to end for the wineries, and brewers start planning for next year’s big crowds, a new festival has emerged in the County- and it’s taking some friendly jabs at it’s competitors. The County Eastside’s Annual Festivus is new this year and one of its main marketing tactics is to throw some shade on the local wine festival currently running in the County.
With tag lines from Festivus like “You have heard of Wassail, right?” and “More relaxed and more fun” you would think the festival is starting a beef, right? Well, Duarte Da Silva, PECWA’s executive director thinks it’s all in good fun and points out that both festivals are helping to bring more visitors to the area at this time of year.“We fully support and encourage everyone to attend both festivals. Both are fun and showcase the County. There are even examples like Three Dog Winery who are involved in both festivals and that’s alright as well.”
Da Silva adds that the participants involved in Festivus were asked to participate in Wassail!, but the decision was made to focus on developing a festival specifically for the east side of the County and include breweries as well.
This year Wassail! is riding high, with record numbers buying the bus ticket/tour and tons of praise from happy customers.
Norman Hardie offers a complimentary beef bourguignon with any tasting and has the firepit for anyone looking to hang outside.
Sandbanks Winery offers free mulled wine and hosts a wreath-making area for anyone interested.
One winery that has really captured the true energy and vibe of Wassail! is Karlo Estates. Sherry Karlo and her team have set up a microphone in their cozy little tasting room. To receive a complimentary taste of wine you must step up the mic and sing from the Wassail! songbook. The Saturdays of Wassail! are some of the busiest of the year for Karlo Estates and the singalong only adds to the fun.
Other highlights from Wassail! around the County include s’mores kits and spiced wine at The Grange Winery, and Broken Stone Winery is hosting live music and serving tourtiere’s with Pinot Noir jelly.
Over on the east side, Festivus seemed a bit harder to find. The highlights yesterday for Festivus included a complimentary wine and nut pairing from Waupoos Winery. Barley Days was promoting 15 per cent off of their hats and Black Prince had their pizza ovens going. Three Dog Winery has some great live music on Saturdays, but they are in both festivals, so no one comes ahead on the fun factor there.
Information on the Festivus events can be a bit hard to find, but maybe that’s where the confusion lies. When a festival claims to be more fun and more relaxed, then the consumer is going to look for those things in the festival. If Festivus instead took the angle that it was a “more fun and more relaxed way to shop” then it would have been more accurate. The Festival is really a consumer based initiative where you must visit every location in the festival to be eligible for a prize draw at the end, which lends itself to the fact that the venues involved should be armed with knowledge and be as interactive as possible. Taking a Seinfeld quote and using it as marketing is smart, but engagement is the key factor, and that seems to have been missed for Festivus this year.
If there is a winner in the friendly “who’s more fun when it comes to end-of-year-County-wine-festivals?” contest, Wassail! edges out Festivus. It’s a vibe that speaks to years of singing and raising your cup after a long season. It comes from sharing stories of the growing season and catching up with friends who have been so incredibly busy since it began and now they can finally take a breath. Wassail! and Festivus both celebrate what local wine and beer producers are doing. Festivus just needs to find its own identity and place in the world. It’s a great concept with a ton of potential, but just might need a few years under its belt to realize what it can become.