North East WineFest Uncorks a Packed Weekend
The three-day event toasts to its fourth decade and more
Beginning Friday, Sept. 23
Come September, if you take a drive or a bike ride up Route 20 toward the New York line, the air is redolent with the thick, juicy scent of ripe grapes.
And that can only mean one thing: it's time for the North East Wine Country Harvest Festival, colloquially known as WineFest.
This year's WineFest again takes place over the last weekend of September in North East's beloved Gibson Park, and it has grown to include over 100 different wines to sample, dozens of musical acts on the main stage and hundreds of vendors, selling everything from arts and crafts, to apparel, jewelry, and sweet and savory treats.
Said Jennifer Smith, marketing and board liaison for Enjoy North East (formerly the North East Chamber of Commerce), "Just like every glass of wine represents months of cultivating and nurturing by the farmers, the Chamber and its board of directors spend months planning the annual Wine Country Harvest Festival."
"It's thrilling to see the event come together and so many people enjoying our town and the fruits of everyone's labor," she continued.
For those tippling the vino, you must have valid ID to show that you are over 21, and you must purchase a Day or Weekend Tasting wristband. Of course, everyone who purchases a tasting wristband will receive a commemorative souvenir wine glass (while supplies last).
If you're just looking to take in the general festival atmosphere, minus the tasting, admission is totally free — wander the park as you will.
And speaking of the festival atmosphere, each day of the event will feature live, local music, including The Goats on Friday, Amanda Barton Duo and Two for Flinching on Saturday, and Jack Stevenson & The Buried Treasure Band on Sunday.
There will be plenty to do for the kids, as live demonstrators will perform juggling and magic, or your little one can transform into a tiger or a kitty via face painting.
You can even take a whimsical ride in a horse-drawn carriage through North East's historic streets.
Returning are events that "have been on hiatus for a few years," according to Smith, such as the Skunk & Goat Tavern four-course outdoor dinner, which features limited seating and a special focus on the wines of North East.
There's also the Car Show: "We've partnered with NFI Empire to bring the event to Heard Park from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday and proceeds benefit our local Boy Scout troops," explained Smith.
Finally, there is the Bike Wine Country Tour, on Friday and Saturday, which features eight and 15 stops, respectively; the WineFest 5K on Saturday which steps off from Gibson Park at 9 a.m.; and the Car Show at Heard Park at 3 p.m., or Yoga & More with Deb Phillips on Sunday.
Whether you're a wine aficionado with a taste for the good stuff or you just want to enjoy the live music and grab a bite to eat, the North East WineFest is pouring with goodness.
4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday // Gibson Park, 2 Gibson Street, North East // Friday or Sunday Tasting Pass: $20; Saturday Tasting Pass: $40; Free general admission // For more information and to buy tickets visit: nechamber.org/about-winefest