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St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival returns with enthusiasm, expanded offerings

  • Courtesy St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival
  • Courtesy St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival
  • Courtesy St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival
  • Courtesy St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival
 

St. Simons Food & Spirits Festival returns with enthusiasm, expanded offerings

29 Sep 2016

UPDATE: The St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival events from Oct. 6-9 have been canceled due to Hurricane Matthew. The event will be rescheduled for a future date. See more closures and cancellations here.

Our original story:

The St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival returns for the fifth year and according to Dave Snyder, president of the festival board, this year has a new sense of excitement and a level of energy that hasn’t been seen at the festival.

“I know that sounds cliché,” he adds. “But it’s so true.”

The St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival takes place Oct. 5-9 and features premium tasting events, award-winning restaurants, pro golfers paired with pitmasters, celebrity chef demos, educational classes, friendly competition, shopping and more.

While the event features some of the most unique food and spirits in the Lowcountry, the festival is also a nonprofit dedicated to highlighting the best of the Golden Isles’ culinary bounty, history and beauty while raising funds and awareness for Hospice of the Golden Isles.

“It’s an important part of the community and makes our community a better place to live; it’s a great asset to the community,” Snyder says.

Snyder adds that while it’s great to raise money for local nonprofits, the festival is also a way to throw a big party and celebrate the area.

“We’ve always said in the beginning that we want to celebrate the bounty of the Golden Isles ... We are just a small, little ol’ shrimping village and we are so proud of what we have. We have this bountiful ocean and we are passionate about sustainability. We also want to celebrate our farms and celebrate our local industry. For a small town, we have a lot of great restaurants and a lot of people who are really proud of what we do.”

Snyder also points out that this year’s renewed energy comes from bringing in an outside company to help with promoting and producing the event, the Hilton Head Island-based firm AdFish Group, led by Jan and Gordon Gourley — the same duo known for co-founding the Savannah Food & Wine Festival as well as other popular events.

“AdFish is a professional group that does this for a living,” Snyder says. “... It brings this event to whole other level.”

So, what’s new this year?

According to Snyder, one of the highlights will be the new monster truck mobile kitchen that Snyder and his Halyards Catering group are bringing to the festival. This 92-foot trailer is fully-equipped with a double line of commercial kitchen equipment and appliances, a dual position cooking island, a large stage and onboard satellite for media purposes. Snyder says the truck will enhance this year’s Chef Showdown Competition during the Oct. 8 Tastings Under The Oaks event at Gascoigne Bluff. For more information on this test market truck, go to www.cpmtruck.com.

Another highlight to this year’s Chef Showdown Competition is the appearance of the Food Network’s Chef Jernard Wells, aka “The Chef of Love,” who will be one of the judges for the competition. Chef Jernard will also host a cooking demonstration after the showdown on the mobile kitchen stage. He is best known as the two-time winner of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and he was runner-up for this season of “Food Network Star.”

Snyder said the festival is also bringing back classes and bartender challenges. He said they are hosting the oyster roast and after party on Oct. 8 at a new location at Gascoigne Bluff to create “something really beautiful under the oaks.”

Another event that has been updated is the Friday night Pier Crawl and Village Stroll in St. Simons Island’s historic Pier Village. The event features a waterfront night of strolling mixed with small bites and drink tastings, live music and more.

Snyder says the event is meant to encourage festival goers to stop into local shops and restaurants and this year’s event will feature a new “pier tasting” tent with a variety of beverage tasting stations with wines, spirits and beer. Shops at the Pier Village will also have gourmet bites as well as signature cocktail samplings. Tickets to the stroll start at $45 and package deals are also available.

Other unique events include the BBQ Pro-Am from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 6 at Sea Island Resort’s Rainbow Island. The event features PGA Tour professionals Davis Love III, Zach Johnson, Brian Harman and more. They will join celebrity pitmasters for a night of competition. The evening includes barbecue, live music, bourbon and an impressive live auction. Tickets are $95 per person and packages are available.

Another hot event is the Friday Festival Feast on Oct. 7 at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. This exclusive event starts with a VIP Champagne Reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. that includes a five-course feast complete with wines and oceanfront views. Chefs for the event include James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill in Charleston, S.C., and five of St. Simons Island’s best chefs including host executive chef James Flack; John Belechak of Palmer’s Village Café; Tom Delaney of Delaney’s Bistro and Bar; Dave Snyder of Halyard Restaurant Group; and Bill Welch of Sea Island Events. Tickets are $150 per person or two tickets for $275. There is also a special silent auction taking place with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Hospice of the Golden Isles.

The festival will wrap up Oct. 9 with the anticipated SPIRITual Sunday Brunch at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. The expanded event lasts from 12:30-3:30 p.m. with scheduled seating times and features culinary stations accompanied by unlimited tastings of signature cocktails, a variety of wine, spirits, beer, Bloody Mary bar, Champagne and mimosas. Tickets are $65 for this event.

“What I am looking forward to this year are bigger crowds and more participation from our community this year,” Snyder adds. “We’ll have more distributors at this year’s event than we ever have had before.”

And if you have to miss this event or you love it so much you want more, than you’ll be glad to know the RSM Classic will partner with the St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival for a new upscale culinary event, A Taste of the Golden Isles, from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 18 at St. Simons Island Pier Village. Ticket options include a $45 ticket or a special $55 combo ticket, which includes one-day admission to the RSM Classic in addition to the Taste event. Both options include all food and beverages in the Main Tasting Tent at A Taste of the Golden Isles. The combo ticket also includes a private VIP reception from 5-6 p.m. This event will be limited to 400 guests and you must be 21 or older to attend. Tickets can be purchased at www.rsmclassic.com. Proceeds from A Taste of the Golden Isles will benefit Hospice of the Golden Isles.

 

SCHEDULE

For more info and tickets, go to www.ssifoodandspirits.com.

 

7:30 p.m. Oct. 5

Southern Soul Barbeque, Bourbon & Beer Pairing

This event is hosted by pitmasters Harrison Sapp, Griffin Bufkin and John Helfrich of Southern Soul Barbeque, along with celebrity guest chef Angus Brown from Octopus Bar, Ama and 8Arm in Atlanta. Tickets are $59; limited quantities.

 

6-9 p.m. Oct. 6

BBQ Pro-Am at Sea Island Resort’s Rainbow Island. Tickets are $95.

 

Oct. 7

Three new Culinary Adventures. All-access pass provides tickets to all three experiences for $99.

10-11:30 a.m. at Halyard’s Restaurant: Celebrity guest chef Angus Brown will host a cooking demo. Tickets are $39.

12:30-2 p.m. at The Farmer & The Larder in Brunswick: The Ark of Taste Luncheon features David Shields, Matthew Raiford and Jovan Sage. Tickets are $39.

3-4:30 p.m., departs from Golden Isles Marina: The Festival Wine Cruise includes a souvenir glass and appetizers. A wine expert will lead guests through the waterways surrounding the Golden Isles. Tickets are $49 and limited to 45 passengers.

5:30-7:30 p.m. in St. Simon Island’s historic Pier Village: Pier Crawl & Village Stroll is a waterfront night of strolling with drinks, sweet and savory tasting bites, music and more. Tickets are $39 through Sept. 30 and $45 after.

Reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort: Friday Festival Feast is an exclusive event that includes a five-course feast complete with wine pairings. Tickets are $150 each or $275 for two.

 

Oct. 8

Noon-3 p.m. at Gascoigne Bluff: Tastings Under the Oaks includes tasting tents, local artistry and family fun as well as the final rounds of the Chef’s Showdown, Coastal Stir Cocktail Competition and chef demos. The free Artisan and Farmers Market opens at 11 a.m. with arts, crafts, farm stands and the best offerings from local retailers and artisans outside the tasting tents. Tickets are $49 through Sept. 30 or $65 after.

7-10 p.m. Oct. 8 at Gascoigne Bluff: Oyster Fest and After Party. Tickets are $45.

 

Oct. 9

12:30-3:30 p.m. at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort: SPIRITual Sunday Brunch offers scheduled seating times. The festival finale is a brunch of culinary stations from the new ECHO restaurant inside The King and Prince. The brunch features unlimited tastings of signature cocktails, a variety of wine, spirits, beer, Bloody Mary bar, Champagne and mimosas. Tickets are $65.

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