There will not be Charleston Wine + Food Festival in 2021, organizers said Thursday, citing concerns around the spread of the coronavirus. This will be the first year since 2005 Charleston will not host the annual festival.
W+F, scheduled to take place March 3-7, 2021, regularly features over 120 events and draws a crowd of nearly 28,000 people annually. The festival reported a 2020 economic impact of $19.9 million.
[content-4]"This was a tough decision to make — this festival is an important event for the City of Charleston and our favorite way to bring people together to share stories and connect," festival organizers wrote in a statement. "However, the safety and security of our guests, participating talent, staff, vendors, and community is of the utmost importance and one that should take precedence above all else."
Gillian Zettler, the festival's executive director, shed some light on the situation and the thought process that went into the decision.
"At this point, guest safety is paramount," Zettler said. "We’ve been in constant communication with lots of folks that we work with on programming each year."
Zettler said it also didn’t feel right to host a festival reliant on the local chefs and restaurateurs struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.
"As much as we would like to be brainstorming programming right now, we thought that would be tone deaf," she said.
In place of the in-person festival, W+F will host live-streamed conversations and possibly some small events before announcing the 2022 festival schedule in late-spring.
"We did some live podcasts in the past," Zettler said. "We’re kind of in an ideation phase right now and leaving it open to smaller gatherings."
[content-1] Euphoria, Greenville’s annual wine and food festival, recently announced it would move forward with a scaled back version of the festival in September. Zettler said they explored this option.
"At the onset, that is something that was discussed. It just feels like if we do the festival, we want to do it the way that it should be done," she said. "This affords us some extra time to do some organizational resets. For us, we just want to gobble up every minute that we have to reevaluate things."
For more information and updates, visit charlestonwineandfood.com.