When you’re missing a favorite event, a couple of years can seem like an eternity.
So, it should come as no surprise that folks were thrilled to see the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival back in full force March 31-April 3 at Clearfork Heart of the Ranch and Whiskey Ranch, ending a two-year interruption forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 7,000 people attended the four-day event. They were greeted by over 150 participating chefs and beverage vendors.
“We simply couldn’t be more pleased with the entire weekend. Everything went flawlessly, from new events to new activities, and our patrons had an amazing time. All 7,000-plus of them,” Fort Worth Food and Wine Foundation co-founder Russell Kirkpatrick said.
Five of the six events within the festival sold out, with the Culinary Corral coming close to making it a sellout sweep, Kirkpatrick noted.
“Oh, we’re so happy it’s back,” said attendee Sarah Miles. “It was one of the first events we attended after moving here (from Kansas City in 2016). We missed it so much.”
“I’m so happy it’s back and we can get out and mingle again,” added Jeff Gunter.
Among the judges for the competition was Eric Nelson, an actor in the 1883 spinoff of the extremely popular Yellowstone television series. Both series have local ties, having filmed in and around the Fort Worth area.
Award winners at the festival included Sidesaddle Saloon, the Judges’ Pick winner in the Nite Bites competition; JD’s Hamburgers, the People’s Choice in the burger competition; and Cowtown Brewing, the Judges’ Pick for best brew.
The Judges’ Pick for best burger went to Kincaid’s for its Cowboy Candy Sliders, while Kelly’s Onion Burgers took second and Easy Slider was third.
“With the struggle the restaurant industry has had, I’m excited for all of them to have this opportunity to spotlight themselves,” patron Kelly Heydman said. “And it’s just good to be out and enjoy this.”
While the official dollar amount brought in by the festival was still being tallied, Kirkpatrick said, “We’re aware that several local hotels that hosted patrons, and the Shops at Clearfork were inevitably going to see an increase in traffic due to our complimentary shuttle that brought guests to the festival grounds from their parking garage.”
Kirkpatrick said ideas are already emerging for next year and beyond.
“We are always looking for ways to incorporate more layers and new participants to continue making this a must-experience festival that attendees look forward to each year,” he said. “Exciting conversations and early planning are already underway for the 2023 fest.”