Downtown Wine Swirl event draws 500 people

Published on Saturday, 28 June 2014 23:35 - Written by Betty Waters

Ticket-holders ambled under partly cloudy skies sampling wine and food while enjoying live music and art during downtown Tyler’s first Wine Swirl on Saturday.

The sold-out “swirl” attracted 500 people and went amazingly well, Beverly Abell, city of Tyler Main Street Department leader, said.

“We are thrilled to have everybody here enjoying downtown, the brick streets and the downtown vibe. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews on the food and wine and how great a time people are having, so we are already talking about (having it) next year,” Ms. Abell said.

Robert Stein, of Tyler, said, “I really am enjoying it. Having the samples of wine and food is just wonderful. I like the vast variety of the good things we are tasting tonight. I think this is an excellent (event). I’m so excited; I want to encourage them to do it again and again.”

Eighteen Texas wineries were paired with 16 Tyler area restaurants in different venues for guests strolling the sidewalks around the downtown square with a plate and glass in hand.

A group of artists set up a pop-up boutique with items related to food and wine. The band Pocket Tangerine provided music and live entertainment.

The inaugural wine-and-food-tasting event was a fundraiser for the city of Tyler Main Street Department, which has downtown revitalization as its mission.

Upon checking in at Gallery Main Street, ticket-holders received a wristband, which entitled them to “swirl” from site to site with a custom wine swirl plate and a wine glass. They were allowed a 2-ounce sample of wine and a food sample at each location.

Don Warren, of Tyler, said, “It’s great for the community. A lot of people are here and the weather’s great. It’s a fun night.”

Charlotte Stanchak, of Tyler, said, “I love it. It reminds me of the wine festival in Fredericksburg. I like that it’s not confined to one place. This is great that you go from place to place to place.”

Pausing at her fourth stop, Claire Cozad, of Tyler, said, “It’s been fun to experience local wineries and other wineries from Texas and then try restaurants we haven’t been to in a while, reminding us to support local restaurants and the good things they have to offer.”

Her husband, Jeremy, added, “I think it’s a great event to support downtown. Anything that can help revitalize downtown and keep things going is great for all of Smith County.”

Heather Jones, of Tyler, called wine swirl fun and different, adding that she had never been to anything like it before.

Saying he is somewhat new to the area, Ted Hammond, of Whitehouse, said the “swirl” gave him more of a look at the restaurants and wines.

“The food is super, and the wine is tremendous. There’s lots of good wines and varieties. I didn’t know some of the restaurants were around,” Steve Ogletree, of Tyler, said. His wife, Cynthia, chimed in, “I think it’s an excellent way to have a fundraiser and make it fun as well as promote Tyler and the businesses within Tyler. I love it. I’m finding restaurants I didn’t know are here.”

Nancy Wrenn said, “It’s a delightful way to connect the businesses and the people and the downtown atmosphere. Destination downtown is now the wave of the future.”

Chris Klepher, of Tyler, said, “I think it’s great for the community, great for all these vendors from out of town and in town. I like being able to walk around. Not being in one place is the coolest part about it.”

Garnett Brookshire, of Tyler, also called the swirl “great for downtown, great for wineries, and it’s a great opportunity to expose us to different cultural aspects of the region.”

He said he saw restaurants he didn’t know are in Tyler.

“I get to choose my favorite restaurant and have my favorite wine with it. I enjoy it; it’s fun,” he said.

The swirl was “unlike Tyler,” David Caulk, of Bullard, said.

“It’s good to see a lot of different wines from the state and food from Tyler,” he added.

Dylan Thomas, of Tyler, described the swirl as “definitely a cool thing to do on the square, something different and something that everybody can get into.”

Marcia Floyd called the swirl “a great idea.”

She added, “I’m excited to see that Tyler is really working hard toward developing downtown and making it a place to go.”

Sherry Kidd said the swirl was wonderful, expressing appreciation for what Main Street Gallery is doing to help keep downtown alive.

“It’s a beautiful evening to be out doing this,” she said.

For sale was a picture by Wine Swirl winning Tyler artist Dace Lucia Kidd, titled “Bon Vivant.” Limited edition poster-sized prints were available, with numbered prints signed by the artist selling for $50 and unsigned prints for $25.

Other art works by Ms. Kidd, Sylvia Morse and Cassie Zemer were for sale.