A new direction for PECWA and its calendar of events
This season, TASTE returned with a makeover and a newly defined vision from Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association (PECWA) not only for TASTE, but for all of their marquee events. PECWA has also gone through its own transition, with the appointment of Duarte Da Silva as executive director. This is a new position to PECWA and one that will face some challenges. Often the talk in the County has been that Terroir and TASTE have similar styles and should be combined for one big event a year. Da Silva and PECWA are seeing this differently, with plans to expand and add an event in the wintertime, possibly in February. Da Silva has also taken the opportunity as executive director to revisit the three annual events put on by PECWA and refocus them by what’s going seasonally, and in our community. “We wanted to make sure that each event had something to offer that was unique, so we went back to the drawing board with some help from Eph*ra and came up with a new vision and direction for our events,” said Da Silva.
Eph*ra events is another new addition to the team, and their experience in the event industry has been a help in redefining PECWA’s events. For TASTE, they wanted it to be focused on the harvest and the local food and wine that abounds that time of year.
“Consider it a local market and a onestop shop for the season. Including wine!” says Stafrace of eph*ra. “What’s special about TASTE this year is meeting all of the farmers and growers face to face. That experience you won’t get anywhere else, You can also buy wine here!”
A farmer’s market vendor license now allows for the sale of bottles of wine. At previous festivals, visitors could taste the wine, but could not buy a bottle to take home.
“We wanted to make TASTE a local, County event,”says Da Silva. “It’s the end of the season and we want it to be focused on the people in our community, Even though this year we have decreased the hours of the festival (now 11a.m.-5p.m.) we wanted to add more to the day than in previous years. More talks and workshops and definitely more food. It is called TASTE after all”
Another major change to the event this year was the price of entry fee being cut in half, going from $40 to $20. This was to encourage families and locals to come and spend more on the vendors. Duarte and PECWA are very aware that this festival comes at the end of a season filled with events, and the end of the season usually equals the end of the wallet as well.
This change of direction for TASTE has not come without criticism. Local winegrowers have voiced concerns about the lack of focus put on the wine industry at this year’s TASTE. It is after all, a winegrowers event. The answer lies in the events being redefined. TASTE: Community Grown is the event’s full name, which speaks to its direction.
“Terroir, for example does not host a market anymore, and is focused almost completely on wine. Besides, it made no sense having a farmers market in the spring, where nothing is coming out of the ground yet,” says Da Silva. “Every event we have has to play to its strengths. There are tons of regional festivals every year and a lot of competition for interest.”
For PECWA, it’s all about finding a groove for the season’s calendar. These events are important to the community, and PECWA seems to be laying the groundwork for these events to be successful into the future. Changing the direction of an already established festival will always be tricky and hard to do without ruffling some feathers.