Big turnout cheers organizers of Wine in the Woods festival

May 18, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

Last weekend's Wine in the Woods festival in Columbia was the toast of the town, organizers say, drawing about 11,000 people to the two-day event, at $13 each.

"We were very thrilled with our numbers and excited about the weather," said Barbara Lett, co-chair of the second annual festival.

About 1,000 more people than last year attended the festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Symphony Woods in Town Center, said Joanne Moroney, special events coordinator for Howard County's recreation and parks department and co-chair of Wine in the Woods.

Wine-lovers sampled more than 40 varieties of wine from Maryland wineries, such as Boordy and Elk Run. Festival-goers received 10 1-ounce servings in logo-imprinted glass stemware.

Those who did not drink wine received a logo-imprinted tray to carry food and received coupons for soft drinks and grape juice.

Those who attended also sampled a variety of foods, including soft-shell crabs, smoked turkey legs and artichoke dip.

Local performers Ken Navarro, a jazz musician, and Deanna Bogart, a boogie-woogie musician, helped rock the crowd.

But unlike last year, festival organizers offered no half-price tickets for so-called "designated drivers," those who refrained from drinking wine at the event.

"Everybody wanted to be a designated driver last year," said Ms. Moroney, adding that hundreds of people took advantage of the half-price tickets.

Symphony Woods, a wooded area near Merriweather Post Pavilion, provided the perfect site, organizers said, and the weather was ideal.

"It's so relaxed you didn't see anyone rushing -- just ambling along," Mrs. Lett said. "I don't think that has a lot to do with the wine. Just that the site is so beautiful . . . They were just ambling along and enjoying one another's company and enjoying life and nature."

There were no incidents at the event, Ms. Moroney said.

"For the most part, we find that it's a wine tasting, so they drink in moderation," she said of the crowd.

The festival, sponsored by the county's recreation and parks department, was prompted by the Maryland Association of Wineries, which has held a similar event in Carroll County for 10 years.

To accommodate festival-goers, organizers may change next year's starting time to noon, because few arrived at 11 a.m.

"Eleven may be too early to drink wine," Ms. Moroney said.

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