Changes coming to Myrtle Beach food and wine festival, starting with the dates

dbryant@thesunnews.comJanuary 22, 2013 

— A Myrtle Beach wine and food festival is set for early June, a few weeks later than usual, while the new organizers still work on the lineup of events.

Coastal Uncorked Food, Wine and Spirits Festival, which recently came under the ownership of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association, is scheduled for June 3 through June 9 and aims to help kick off the summer season, the association said Tuesday.

The festival, which had its first events in 2010, usually occurs in April or May.

“We felt moving Coastal Uncorked into the first week of June would allow us to kick off the summer season, provide an opportunity for aggressive hotel packaging of the event and increase supplemental room nights to drive additional revenues into the Grand Strand,” Stephen Greene, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association, said in a news release.

The shift in dates is the first of what’s likely to be more changes to the festival, which usually included tasting events and appearances by celebrity chefs such as Food Network’s Paula Deen in 2011. The association is still working on the lineup for this year, with everything from the location of the events, type of events and ticket costs being considered, Greene said.

“We’ll definitely have some changes,” he said. “We are kind of looking at everything.”

The main goal is to showcase the Grand Strand’s food offerings – the area boasts more than 1,700 eateries – and lure visitors to the area, especially those in nearby markets such as North Carolina and Georgia, Greene said.

“We are really trying to key in on events that showcase our local culinary scene,” he said.

The hospitality association just acquired the festival in November, saying it had been looking for a signature event to promote the food side of the area’s hospitality industry.

“We are trying to do 12 months of work in five months,” Greene said. “We are working very quickly to announce things as soon as possible.”

Prior to the association taking over the event, Coastal Uncorked had come under criticism from some who said the event misrepresented how much of its revenue was going toward Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s culinary school and Coastal Carolina University’s hospitality program. Coastal Uncorked, which operated as a non-profit prior to the association taking it over, had received money from the city and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Heidi Vukov, a local eatery owner who founded Coastal Uncorked, said in a news release in November that the time was right for the event to grow under new ownership.

“We felt that it was time for the festival to take the next step in its development by transitioning from a dedicated group of volunteers to a full-time staff committed to growing the event and the Grand Strand hospitality industry,” she said in the release.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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