Budbreak wine and craft beer festival will be celebrating its ninth year in 2016. In less than a decade, the festival has grown in popularity becoming Mount Airy’s third largest annual event.
The event began as a celebration of the growing wine industry in the Yadkin Valley, according to event coordinator Bob Meinecke. Held on the last Saturday of April, the name Budbreak describes the early buds coming out on the grape vines during the spring. Through the years, the festival has expanded to include craft beers from local brewers.
Hosted by the Mount Airy Rotary Club, Budbreak is the organization’s primary fundraiser. “The regular chicken stew fundraisers were getting worn out,” said Meinecke, explaining how the club came to partner with Ben Webb of Old North State Winery to create the first Budbreak festival.
This year 17 wineries and four craft brewers from across the region are expected to participate, including Mount Airy’s own Round Peak Winery, Old North State Winery and Skull Camp Brewing. “Adding the craft beer last year doubled our attendance,” said Meinecke, explaining the variety creates a broader appeal.
The festival will feature performances by two bands, Time Sawyer, returning from last year, and Phatt City, playing beach music, R&B, and dance music since the 1970s. “We try to tie in with the arts council to provide enough entertainment for an overnight stay,” said Meinecke.
The third annual public art Fiddle Crawl will be unveiled the night before Budbreak, allowing festival goers to see the latest public art creations.
“What makes this festival special is keeping it small,” said Meinecke.
Set in the heart of historic downtown Mount Airy, the 400 block of Main Street is closed to vehicles for the afternoon. The easy accessibility to the town’s amenities allows the organizers to really focus on the wine and beer. Many independently-owned restaurants are within a short walk, so only one food vendor, 13 Bones, is set up within the festival.
“Downtown merchants have captured the essence of the event,” said Meinecke, noting a friendly collaboration has formed between the Rotary Club, the city of Mount Airy and the Downtown Business Association. Visitors to the festival are encouraged to walk down the street, taking in the Downtown Business Association sidewalk sale and the many shops and restaurants which make up the town.
Advance tickets, at $15, will be available beginning late in February on the website: budbreakfestival.com, where it is also possible to sign-up for email updates. Tickets also will be sold at the gate on April 30 for $20.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.