Isn't summertime supposed to be about beaches, frozen drinks, sunscreen and a grill? I thought so.
The more summers I spend in and around Savannah, the more I am getting used to the fact that a lot of things are "supposed to be." But they just aren't anymore. Good problems to have, especially when it comes to business.
As we all know, the fall is when things get crazy around here. Beginning with the Craft Brew Festival Labor Day Weekend, our city will bubble with events and excitement all the way through Thanksgiving. For my money, it is the most wonderful time of the year. For all parties involved, the things that make it wonderful are happening right now.
I sat in on a meeting this week at the Tourism Leadership Council, headquarters for the Savannah Food & Wine Festival. Smallish gathering, but the sparks were flying as preparations continued for the city's best food event of the year. November will be year five for the festival, and I think it would be fair to say that the overall experience has gotten better with age.
One of the biggest takeaways from my sitting in the back of the room listening to the crafting of a very busy week is how much this event, and really any event like it around the country, depends on the help of volunteers.
Food festivals of this size are a massive undertakings. Planning for next year begins, almost literally, the day after this year is over. There is some post-mortem discussion about what went right and wrong with the event. There's more discussion about how best to address that and then everyone goes to work to make it better down the road. But always, there is a plan in place to try to recruit more volunteers.
Most people don't realize the paid, full-time staff for the Savannah Food & Wine Festival is less than a dozen people. Festival Director Jan Gourley and her staff can always count on having a full plate. As you might imagine, throwing a massive city-wide party for thousands requires manpower.
The needs can be as simple as assisting with general registration or pointing a tourist in the right direction for a restroom. Some volunteers are asked to help chefs prepare for their demos, others may get involved in the heavy lifting required to get festival materials in place for the masses. There really is something for everyone and no one is asked to do anything they aren't capable of doing.
Ultimately the goal is to make the guest experience as enjoyable as possible - not only for the locals attending the festivals, but also the visitors from out of town (because there are a ton) who come to Savannah just for that week.
There are a lot of great events that you can be a part of. The Q Masters event on Friday night last year was a huge success. There's also what many believe is the best party of the week, the Secret Savannah Speakeasy. Eat It and Like It is involved in that event and I can tell you this one will be the best one yet.
So what's in it for you? Depending on how much time you offer, and remember not all volunteer time is limited to festival week, you are offered discounted tickets to any of the events on the schedule. Free tickets start at 12 volunteer hours. After it's all said and done, the festival hosts an appreciation dinner for all volunteers. That is a great time as well.
Detailed requirements and more information can be found on their website. Visit savannahfoodandwinefest.com and click on the link in the top right corner of the home page. And a huge thanks in advance to those who plan to join us Nov. 6-12, 2017.
See you on TV,
A quick reminder to those who aren't planning to volunteer for any events at Savannah Food & Wine, early bird tickets for a lot of events are available now. They won't be any cheaper than they are right now. Take a look at the line up at savannahfoodandwinefest.com.
If you can't wait until November, then Aug. 17-20 needs to be on your calendar. The Gourmet Seafood and Spirits Festival (formerly Aquacurean) returns to the Westin Savannah Harbor. It's a seafood hotel takeover and it's a lot of fun. More information at gourmetseafoodandspiritsfestival.com.
Savannah Restaurant Week is coming July 28-Aug. 6. Three courses for $30 at any of a couple of dozen participating restaurants around town. Find out more at dining.savannahnow.com.
Savannah and Pooler's favorite British Pie Shop is now available by mail. There goes the diet. Pie Society is now shipping their products throughout the continental United States. It's been a while in the making, but all of the I's are dotted and T's crossed. They might make for a perfect gift come holiday time.