It's "welcome home" to one of middle Tennessee's premier events with the announcement the 14th annual A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival will return to its birthplace in Wilson County next month.
Hosted by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, this popular wine fest will return to this county at the Wilson County Expo Center in Lebanon on April 29 (Saturday) from noon to 6 p.m. The Expo Center opened in November 2016 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center.
Chamber Director Mark Hinesley said the return to Wilson County after nine years held at Nashville Shores is thrilling, and not a decision the Chamber took lightly.
"The Wine Festival began 14 years ago at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon," he said. "At that time we found we needed a place that could accommodate up to 4,000 people, and some other consideration."
And while the festival was extremely successful at the waterpark on Percy Priest Lake, there's always been the intention to bring back this local Chamber's largest annual fundraiser to the county where they serve.
"Most of the festival's attendees, volunteers and staff are from the Wilson County area," Hinesley said. "It's such a wonderful event and this year it will be in its hometown. We look so forward to it, and have been for a long time."
Mt. Juliet Chamber Director of Membership Anita Spicer said attending this year's festival is, "A great opportunity to sample Tennessee wines and specialty foods, attend wine and food seminars, shop from local crafter, and more."
As far as comparing the cost of putting on the festival in Davidson County versus Wilson County, Hinesely said its basically a wash when you compare different packages and what the Chamber needed to bring to the event. And they aren't really worried about losing Nashville area wine consumers, Hinesley noted, "We weighed the pluses and minuses and I don't think a few exits further will hurt a thing."
He believes the festival will draw not only Nashville wine drinkers, but also those not only from Wilson County but also from Dekalb and Smith counties.
And, the move drew a first ever third Title Sponsor for the event. There's also a prediction there will be a record number of wineries on hand to provide free samples of wine to the thousands of attendees.
Another plus is the fact the weather was always a worry at Nashville Shores as that venue is held outside. The Expo Center will provide a mostly indoor venue in the event Mother Nature decides to shed a few tears. Sometimes in the past few years rain put a damper on attendance because there was nowhere to find shelter at that venue.
"At the Expo Center we will have the opportunity to open the large garage doors, and use the outdoor area for such things as a smoking area, food trucks and concession foods," he said. "However, we have a meeting with an Expo officials soon and we will be able to figure it all out."
Additionally, a huge plus is the plenty of parking at the Expo Center.
"But, mostly we are just thrilled to have a perfect venue in our home county," Hinesley noted. "Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto is thrilled we are back and we love coming home."
For information about available sponsorships and more, go to atoasttotennesee.com or visit the festival's Facebook page.