After one unlucky year off, the International Wine, Beer & Food Festival is back better than ever this fall.
The 14th annual festival pulled back to two days this year, yet it's once again the largest in the Midwest in a number of ways: Space, attendees and available offerings. More than 1,500 products are spread across three acres of space in DeVos Place, easily providing a full day (or two) of tasting and camaraderie.
We talked with Dawn Baker, Show Manager of ShowSpan, about what's in the works for the November 19-20 festival.
HOW ARE YOU KEEPING THE EVENT SAFE?
As we look forward, we still plan on following any protocols, suggestions and mandates. We are working under the guidance of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and we have lots of communication with the Kent County Health Department. We will absolutely be following anything that will help continue to keep businesses open and events happening. And yet, we want to offer the excitement, engagement and education the festival has always offered.
WHAT'S NEW THIS YEAR?
The thing I'm really excited about is that for the very first time, we'll be offering a VIP experience—a very exclusive, enhanced VIP package that will involve a special tour by community leaders and media personalities. I can't give a whole lot of details about that yet, but it'll be a very upscale and personal way to engage with the festival. I'm super excited the public will have an opportunity to choose something that's a little bit different this year.
WHAT ABOUT IN TERMS OF PRODUCTS?
In the last year and a half, non-alcoholic beverages have really risen. There's been a growing amount of great product that's non-alcoholic. From canned beverages that can be taken on-the-go to mocktails that are enjoyable if you're just sitting around on your back patio.
"Wine and beer," it's in the name, right? So, it's all about alcohol? Actually, it's not. It's all about tasting. It's about finding what you like in the food and beverage industry.
WHAT'S RETURNING THAT YOU'RE EXCITED ABOUT?
One of the new things we did in 2019 is what we call a party deck. It's sponsored and it's going to be an even more elevated experience. We'll have a DJ outside in this special area, and games like cornhole. There was some excitement just being outdoors and taking a breath in the fresh night air. We're bringing that area back, but with more excitement and activity.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE GET OUT OF THE EVENT RETURNING?
I hope this brings some unification again. It didn't matter whether you liked a certain beer or a different kind, we were all celebrating the craft industry, and how it's impacted our city specifically.
Learn more by visiting showspan.com/GRW
Written by Josh Veal, Contributing Writer for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.