GENEVA – This year’s Festival of the Vine has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will be replaced – somewhat – by a month long restaurant event, according to a news release.
The festival, which had been scheduled for Sept. 11-13, usually brings about 75,000 people to Geneva’s downtown, officials said.
Geneva Chamber President Paula Schmidt stated in the release that Phase 4 reopening guidelines do not permit an event the size of Festival of the Vine.
“We felt this decision is for the safety of our Festival of the Vine visitors and participants,” Schmidt stated in the release. “Knowing that our first thought, during these uncertain times, is the health and safety of those who may attend a festival, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Geneva of Commerce Board has made the difficult decision to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A replacement program, Sip & Sample Through September, will be a month-long event of restaurants offering a sip and a sample of a popular or new item, Schmidt stated in the release.
“It is our hope that patrons will then stay for breakfast, lunch or dinner in that eatery and help support the Geneva Chamber as well,” Schmidt stated in the release.
Tickets for Sip & Sample are $20, which will cover beer or wine paired with an appetizer or dessert of the restaurant’s choice, spokeswoman Laura Rush said.
It's a way of promoting local restaurants without creating crowds or encouraging people to congregate, she said.
Tickets will be available through the chamber’s website genevachamber.com starting Aug. 24, Rush said.
“They give their ticket to the server and it’s for whatever the restaurant decided,” Rush said. “It might be white wine with a bruschetta or red wine with a chocolate tart. Because it’s only a sample, we hope they stay and have a dinner or lunch or whatever situation might be. It’s not going to make you full.”
Both the restaurant and the chamber will benefit from the ticket sales, she said.
Fourteen restaurants have committed so far, but have not provided their menu pairings yet, Rush said.
Restaurants may also have more than one pairing, she said.
The chamber will post a full list on its website by Aug. 24 once all the commitments are in, rather than put up information piecemeal, she said.
“We are not releasing the names of restaurants until the program is ready to go,” Rush said. “We have a nice mix of different restaurants. … We’re very pleased with the mix.”
The chamber has no idea how much participation there will be for Sip & Sample, as they’ve never done it before, she said.
“This serves a couple of purposes,” Rush said of the new program. “It gets people downtown, frequenting the restaurants – and trying something new.”