By Mike Bartoszek
Follow Mike on Instagram @mikebartoszek
Rain...we’ve had an unusual amount of rain this season, and while it might have slowed down the festivities a little, it by no means stopped the party. The 2018, 10th anniversary of the Food, Wine and Brew Festival saw hundreds of people from across the state visit Harker Heights and sample local wines, local beers and local food.
“Cheers to ten years!” was the theme, toasting to the great support and the growth the festival has had over the past decade. A little rain didn’t stop the bands from battling it out on one of the two stages for the battle of the bands competition, while the headlining acts played on the main stage filling the air with everything from trumpets and jazz to guitars and rock.
Wineries and breweries from across the state lined up under their tents to serve, sample and sell their delicious handmade blends. Everything from mead to pilsners was represented from all across the state. Central Texas locals like The Salado Winery Company, Dancing Bee Winery, Georgetown Winery and Barrow Brewing, to name a few, all introduced and served their brews to the masses.
Vendors and artists from around the state filled ez-ups spread across the park displaying their crafts and art work. Under the pavilion in the center of the park artists displayed their paintings, created art on site, let children paint recycled bottles, sold their work and paint a large murals. Kate Cook, owner of Asphalt Canvas, had an impressive display of hand painted items, from Christmas ornaments painted and filled with wildflower seeds to growlers, jugs and cups all custom painted to match her “hot rod” style.
Food was in no short supply, and with the rain and slightly muggy temps I headed right to the island food truck for an order of lumpia. The Central Texas area is unique in Texas in many ways, one of which is being home to the largest population of Pacific Islanders in the state. That means, fantastic dishes like lumpia, or keleguin are common place here. Every where you walked the warm scent of cooked meats and carbs floated through the air enticing your stomach to pair your freshly poured pilsner with a tender chunk of BBQ and warm bread, the perfect fit for any adult beverage. Locals like, Let us do the cooking, were on display handing out free samples of one of their dishes and their famous brownies while food trucks came from across the region to serve food to hungry festival goers, there was even an ice cream truck there to cool you down with a sweet treat. HEB came in full force treating us to freshly smoked brisket, gourmet finger foods, wine and even banana pudding!
New to the festival was the trash can punch competition. Contestants competed to see who could make the best “trash can punch” from a large selection of beers, wines, fresh produce, fruit juice and other ingredients. The competition was tight, as all three teams raced the clock to create something the judges would like. Winning, was team 1 with a blend of wine, 7-up, orange, lemon, and strawberries, serving it up in a fruit garnished champagne glass.
Beer and Wine festivals have a way of bridging gaps between people, opening new doors, and joining together strangers as friends. There's magic in sharing a pint with a stranger and the friendship a simple "Hello, what are you drinking" can open. As the night closed and another great year at the Food, Wine and Brew Festival started to come to an end, festival goers smiled as they said goodbye to those new found friends and while the rain may have slowed things down, it never came close to crashing the party.