CLOVERDALE — The biggest thing Paulette Garneau can’t control on the weekend of May 28-29 is the weather.
“So far it’s been fantastic this spring, and we’re hoping for sunny days, which will make all the difference in the world,” said Garneau, a co-producer of The Grape & The Grain.
The two-day festival, an inaugural event, is devoted to wine, beer and spirits, and the liquor will flow at the outdoor venue known as Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre, at Cloverdale Fairgrounds.
Garneau and her fellow event planners with Phoenix Productions are aiming to attract 10,000 people to the festival with a wide selection of adult beverages, food and live music.
“It’s a chance for people to enjoy a nice afternoon out with some wine, music and good food, and we’re setting up a village area with other vendors, too,” Garneau told the Now. “We’re hoping for about 30 different beer samplings, about 40 wines and another 20 samplings of spirits, so that’s about 100 different types of alcohol to taste,” she added.
The aim is to make The Grape & The Grain an annual event.
“We’re trying to highlight the spirits, mainly,” Garneau explained. “There are a great deal of new distillers in B.C. and a lot of them are small, so we’re highlighting a lot of what’s being done locally, and craft beers and wineries, too.
“We want people to come try new brands, because a lot of people, you know, drink the vodka they drink and don’t try Dragon Mist, which is produced here (in Surrey). We started with the spirits and then added on, with the grape and the grain, across the board, and give people a chance to try new products that are produced right here in B.C.”
Festival admission is $55 for the Saturday, $45 for Sunday, $75 for a weekend pass and $95 for a Sunday brunch.
For attendees, the festival will employ a cashless pay system with the use of so-called RFID wristbands (radio-frequency identification). Upon entering the festival site, ticketholders will be given one of the Fitbit-like wristbands pre-loaded with $20 to spend.
The typical attendee for this type of festival is 38 years old and a wine lover and a food-savvy professional, organizers say on their website in a message to potential sponsors.
The RFID system “will allow us to track various statistics that will enhance immediate social media campaigns while festival goers are on site,” the website states. “This (system) allows us to perform highly detailed consumer profiling for our sponsors and vendors. You can be a part of this cutting-edge new marketing strategy.”
Musicians confirmed to perform at the festival include JP Maurice, Dominique Fricot, Larry Edward, Sadie Campbell and Mai Tai Friday. Charity partners for the event are BC Kidney Foundation and Operation Red Nose, Garneau said.
Last October, Phoenix Productions staged an Oktoberfest event at the Agriplex that didn’t go as well as the company had hoped. Attendance was soft, and a shuttle service wasn’t well used, Garneau said.
As for The Grape and The Grain festival, she believes there’s a public thirst for this “one of a kind” event.
“We hope so,” she said. “Unfortunately we’re crisscrossing with a brewers association event that moves across Canada, and it happens to be in B.C. that weekend, so hopefully next year we hope to have a bit more participation of local craft breweries. But like anything, you’re trying to get a project off the ground. People don’t recognize the name or the event, so it takes a couple of years for people to want to go to it and enjoy it. There are a few smaller, similar events around the Lower Mainland, and we’re hoping to make ours a go-to event each season.”
More festival details can be found at Thegrapeandthegrain.ca.