Port Deposit to hold new, improved Food and Wine Festival

The words "Port Deposit" may not typically be associated with "upscale wine festival," but a new organizer plans to change that this weekend.

The Port Deposit Food and Wine Festival is returning Saturday with a bang, and the Chamber of Commerce hopes to make it an even bigger, snazzier event than last year's festival, which mostly featured a George Jones concert.

Naomi Fabricant, who lives in Bel Air but plans to open a business in Port this year, said the festival, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Marina Park, will have a "different tone" than it did last year.

"It was more of a country music and beer festival," she said. "Our goal this year is to kind of make it a little bit upscale, but I don't know if that's the right word for it."

The event will be "more about the actual food and wine and the actual pairings."

For $25 (or $18.12 in advance online), visitors will be able to sample wines from Cecil County's two wineries, Terrapin Station and Dove Valley, and try food from vendors like Laurrapin Grille of Havre de Grace and Back Fin Blues Bar and Grill of Port Deposit.

Fabricant expects perhaps 1,200 people for the event, which will also feature a cigar lounge, live music throughout the day, food demonstrations and even a Victorian costume contest and pizza-eating contest.

"We are trying to encourage people to not just want to sample wine and kind of drink all day. We want people to interact and really participate in the event," she said.

Dangerously Delicious Pies, of Baltimore, will be selling its baked goods there. The bakery has often been featured on the Food Network.

Gary Griffith, of Emilio Cigars, will conduct demonstrations on aspects of the cigar, and a cigar lounge area will be available for visitors to enjoy.

Musical acts will feature Arty Hill, whom Fabricant described as "honky-tonk blues," the eight-piece band Old Man Brown and a Massachusetts college band called Lions Don't Eat Lions.

Vendors will include crafts, ironworks, candles and jewelry sellers, and children's events will be available in the form of a playground and an art project with the Boys & Girls Club.

"My goal is for people to walk away and go, 'Wow, what a nice day,'" Fabricant said. "I hope people come and really enjoy it and really get what we are trying to do."

Part of the proceeds of the Port Deposit Food and Wine Festival will go to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cecil County, along with the Northern Map Turtle Project, which Towson University is doing with Port Deposit.

Parking will be available at Bainbridge and free shuttles will even be provided from there.

"We have plenty of parking; nobody has to go far," Fabricant reassured.

Gates for the festival open at 11 a.m. and the event officially begins at noon.

For more information, visit http://www.portdepositwinefestival.com, which also has a link to its Facebook page.

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