If you are a regular reader of the information we love to share in this space, and have, as a result, been visiting with us for more than a couple of years, then you probably have a good idea of not only the best eats in the Savannah, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island area, but also a feel for our social calendar.
Of course, the biggest event we attend and participate in every year is the Savannah Food & Wine Festival. That happens in November all over downtown Savannah. If you've not participated, it is a must. Sprinkled along the way are other regional events we are honored to be a part of. One of those we circle every year is the Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife event on Jekyll Island.
Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife (W3, as we have come to call it) is quite possibly the best food-related event along the Georgia coast. Now in its fourth year, W3 has become a destination event for visitors from all over the South. Located roughly halfway between the Savannah and Jacksonville markets, there is no shortage of people looking for some wonderful oceanfront bites. Atlanta's familiarity with the Golden Isles and nearby St. Simons Island creates a natural getaway, as well.
"W3 is just a whole lot of fun," says Chris Contois, sous chef at The Westin Jekyll Island. "We actually look forward to it as a staff every year."
What makes this event so special? Well, for starters, it's not nearly as big as some of the other events you may attend in the region. W3 is by nature a smaller event, so it is more comfortable and easier to enjoy. Could I call it a "boutique" food festival? Yeah, you could say that.
The scene is oceanfront, very literally right over the powdery white sand dunes of Jekyll Island just outside of The Westin Jekyll Island.
Friday night's hotel takeover started by accident, but has become so popular, guests won't let them take it away. Year one of the festival, the Friday night event was supposed to be held outside. Weather moved everything inside. It was such a huge hit, it has been a hotel takeover ever since. Guests make their way through the hotel and around the Westin's verandas, enjoying samples from chefs from all over the region. Listen closely, and you can hear the waves crashing at night. It really is a gorgeous scene.
Saturday's main event, W3, is an outdoor extravaganza of regional tastes. Several barbecue masters regularly join in on the fun as well as some of the top restaurants along the coast, especially those who call Georgia's Golden Isles home. It's a three-hour event featuring unlimited bites and sips of some of the regions best spirits. BBQ Alley will feature tastes from Savannah's B's Cracklin' BBQ, Hilton Head's One Hot Mama's, Southern Soul BBQ from St. Simons Island and Gilbert's Underground from Amelia Island. And you get to vote for your favorite.
Outside of all of the great food and drink, the best part of the weekend, as we mentioned, is the scene on Jekyll Island. A state-owned park along the coast, Jekyll in many ways looks a lot like it may have looked 200 years ago. Bike paths wind their way through the trees and along the beach, while some stretches of beach may see a handful of people per week. Truly untouched beauty. Look for a drone video of the island online with this column at DoSavannah.com.
Tickets and more information about specific events surrounding W3 2018 can be found at whiskeywineandwildlife.com.
See you on TV,
IF YOU GO
What: Whiskey, Wine & Wildlife
When: Feb. 8-11
Where: Jekyll Island
Reminder, Savannah Restaurant Week runs through Sunday night. Yes, it's the Super Bowl, but give it some thought. If you hate football (or the New England Patriots), head out for dinner and you will have the place to yourself. Find a full list of restaurants at dining.savannahnow.com.
Speaking of the Super Bowl: All due respect to Tom Brady. Probably the best football player to ever step on a field. The dynasty is what it is. That doesn't mean I have to like it. Go Eagles! 27-24.
Leopold's Ice Cream's creative writing contest is back. Free ice cream party for the winner. Read all about it right now at eatitandlikeit.com.
"Shifting Baselines" is a documentary on sustainable seafood that will premiere Feb. 10 at the Gray's Reef Film Festival. You can hear all about it right now on my latest podcast. It's called "Shuck It!" Find it on the website as well.
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