“It takes about a year to plan the event. We anticipate crowds of over 20,000 people,” said Lorna Davis, Executive Director of Newport Chamber of Commerce.
The crowd has grown significantly over the years. “We’ve seen a big increase in traffic from neighboring states this year and some days such as Saturdays we experienced a capacity issue,” said Davis.
Organizers said that issue didn’t stem from overselling. But, they did have a one out, one in policy to avoid going over the tent’s capacity of around 5,000.
The huge crowds went to check out more than 150 different booths, including 70 Northwest vineyards. While some poured at the event for years, for others it was a new experience. “A lot of people are asking where we’re located, picking up business cards, things like that, enjoying the wines and just being able too see who we are,” said Chris Carlberg, owner of Christopher Bridge Winery.
The festival had more to offer than just food and drink. Along the aisles, vendors sold artwork and just tried to have a bit of fun. “Throughout the weekend we play a little blackjack, give away prizes, we play a little cards, then we just give fun swag away, just fun cards, bags, bears,” said Heather Hatton, spokesperson for Chinook Winds Casino Resort.
This annual festival leaves a pretty big mark on the area. “It has an impact on the whole central Oregon coast, because people stay from Lincoln City down to Yachats in the hotels. There’s a lot of visitor spending. We estimate around $2.5 million every year,” said Davis.
The festival is scheduled for February each year to bring in more visitors during a typically slow part of the year. Organizers said one change you can expect in 2014 is that it will be an e-ticket only event.