Front Royal weekend events tease the palate

Downtown Front Royal will welcome thousands of visitors who are hankering for a taste of Virginia wines and local cuisine this weekend.

A Taste of the Town will return to Main Street and the downtown gazebo for its third year. It is  sponsored by the Front Royal Independent Business Alliance. From 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, more than a dozen local eateries will offer attendees samples of their cuisine from Main Street.

With 1,200 to 1,400 people in attendance last year, business owner and alliance steering committee member Craig Laird said the alliance anticipates the 2016 event to be the biggest yet.

“We think if the rain stops, people are really going to want to get out and enjoy that,” he said.

For the first time, Laird said attendees will be able to pick from a few food trucks at this year’s event. Live entertainment from the gazebo will come from No More Chili, and a portion of proceeds will benefit the Front Royal Congregational Community Action Project. Mayor Timothy Darr will serve as judge for the event’s car show.

The entry fee for foodies will be $10, which includes seven tickets to spend on samples and dishes. Laird said the alliance has considered starting up a fall Taste of the Town.

“All of these are local, independent businesses…so it’s a great way for those in the community to sample what we in Warren County have to offer,” he said. “It’s a real neighborhood atmosphere.”

Laird said many vendors will be opening up shop again on Saturday for the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Virginia Wine and Craft Festival, which is reaching its 30-year vintage.

Those who purchase a wine-tasting ticket for the event will be able to sample from 20 Virginia wineries. Niki Foster Cales, chamber president, said some regular favorites at the festival have included wines from Fox Meadow Winery, Desert Rose Ranch and Winery and North Mountain Vineyard and Winery. She said other participating wineries shift from year to year, but 20 wineries have proven to balance the event perfectly.

“That’s a really good number for an event our size because its not oversaturated in the number of people that we have coming,” she said. “Right now, I think we sort of have the perfect recipe for things.”

On the crafting end, visitors will be able to peruse wares from more than 150 craft vendors and artisans from up and down the East Coast, some of them demonstrating processes like painting or jewelry making. Cales said this is the first year the chamber has sold out of vendor spots.

“We’ve gotten really close, this is the first time that we can honestly say we’re completely sold out,” she said. “We couldn’t fit another vendor in the space that we’ve allotted.”

Attendees can listen to performances throughout the day by groups like Gold Top County Ramblers, Back to Zero, The Church Street Project and No More Chili. Food vendors will also be set up downtown.

Cales said the festival had around 11,000 visitors last year and – rain or shine – the chamber is hoping for an even larger crowd in 2016.

IF YOU GO:

A Taste of the Town:  7 to 10 p.m. Friday in downtown Front Royal. Tasting entry tickets are $10, but general admission is free.Tickets can be bought at Royal Oak Computers, the Front Royal City National Bank or the Front Royal Visitor’s Center. For more information, email info@frontroyaliba.org.

The Virginia Wine and Craft Festival: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in downtown Front Royal. General admission is free, while wine taster tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://tinyurl.com/q4fljb or call 540-635-3185.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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