GENEVA – The 39th annual Festival of the Vine will open at 11 a.m. Sept. 7 in Geneva, with wines to taste, foods to sample from 18 restaurants, musical entertainment and sales.
Sponsored by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, the festival continues through the weekend with the addition of a craft fair on Sept. 8 and 9.
The chamber’s Flavor Fare and Wine Tent will be located at West State Street and North Fourth Street and for the first time will be taking credit cards and debit cards to pay for food and wine tickets, chamber spokeswoman Laura Rush said.
“It’s always been cash and we will have a dedicated line for credit cards,” Rush said. “That will make everything a little more efficient and people won’t have to carry big wads of cash in their pockets.”
Rush said estimates are that 75,000 people attend the festival, but she suspects it may be more than that.
“Judging by the photos from last year, if it’s a nice night on Friday or especially Saturday, it’s wall-to-wall people,” Rush said.
Restaurants participating include Geneva Ale House, Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream, Inglenook Pantry, Josef’s Elegante Meats & Deli, Kernel’s Gourmet Popcorn, Kilwin’s of Geneva, Niche, Nobel House, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Osteria Bigolaro, Rigonato Old World Grille, Gen-Hoe, Altiro Latin Fusion, Del Barrio, 1910 Bar, Craft Urban, 318 Coffeehouse and Stockholm’s.
“Almost everybody has changed up their menu this year,” Rush said. “There’s a lot of variation of things that people are going to like."
SavWay Fine Wines & Spirits is providing the chamber with 26 wines for its Wine Tent. These include Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Ruffino Prosecco from Italy, Eve Chardonnay from Washington state and Seven Moons Red Blend from California.
Other merchants are also featuring wines for tasting and as part of special events.
These include the 29th annual Graham’s wine and chocolate tasting event at 215 Fulton St.; All Chocolate Kitchen, 33 S. Third St., on pairing chocolate with Wine; a wine and cheese presentation at SavWay Fine Wines and Spirits, 515 W. State St.; more than 75 wines to sample at The Little Traveler, 404 S. Third St.; Wine Garden at The Royal Wren, 11 S. Third St.; wine tasting at Fiora’s Restaurant, 317 S. Third St.; Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, 477 S. Third St., will feature wine slushies and tastings; and Geneva Wine Cellars, 227 S. Third St., will feature wines from around the world.
An integral part of putting on the festival, Rush said, is help from 130 volunteers, police, public works and the fire department.
“Volunteers work the information booth, they help with the craft show if a crafter needs to use the restroom, they sit in the booth,” Rush said. “They sell tickets at the Flavor Fare. They are security to check IDs, they make sure people do not walk away with alcohol. They sell pop and water.”
Volunteers do multiples of three shifts at a time, with some working multiple shifts, she said.
Police make sure pedestrians get across State Street safely and the police and fire together make sure emergency personnel are available. Public works sets up all the electrical connections and coordinate garbage pick up up for the festival, she said.
In addition, Rush said, the chamber also hires people to to do extra work all weekend as with a staff of six, they need help, especially with lifting.
“It is a production,” Rush said. “Every festival we do is a community production. … We try to make it as seamless as possible.”
The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9. The full schedule is available online at www.genevachamber.com.