Annual Feast Walla Walla gets dual boost

The food and wine event downtown will have a larger tent and coincide with a wine weekend.

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Below watch video of past Feast Walla Walla events.

WALLA WALLA -- Organizers of Feast Walla Walla, the community's annual celebration of food, wine and art, are already savoring a couple of additions for this year's event: A bigger tent to house the festivities, and the pairing with a wine weekend that could provide a bigger helping of guests.

The fourth annual Feast takes place the second Saturday of next month -- April 9 & which coincidentally happens to fall on Cayuse Weekend, the time when Cayuse Vineyards releases its pre-ordered vintages for pickup by its mailing list members.

"We are actually thinking it's going to be a great thing," said Jennifer Northam, events and public relations manager for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation. "People will be picking up their Cayuse wine. They'll be here, they might as well enjoy all that the Valley has to offer."

That includes samples of foods and other wines from Feast's estimated 45 participating businesses -- 15 eateries and 30 wineries.

Though the list of participants isn't yet complete, 12 eateries are already on board and 26 wineries have signed up.

The foodie festival brings the flavors of numerous outfits under one roof for a mega-sampling event introducing the public to the varying tastes of Walla Walla. It also has served a metaphorical first course to the tourism season.

"It really is our signature event," Northam said. "There's all sorts of things that happen downtown and in the community, but this is kind of the kickoff for the whole year."

For those who haven't yet partaken in the event, here's how it works: Restaurants and wineries set up under a giant tent spanning First Avenue between Main and Alder streets downtown. (This year, that space will grow with an additional "T" at Main Street. More on that later.)

Participants pay $45 each, which gets them a commemorative wine glass and 10 event tokens. Throughout the three-hour Feast, tokens are exchanged for samples of food or wine.

Additional tokens are also available for $2 each. Participants can also purchase bottles of the wines they taste.

The event capacity is 600 people, but with a new layout this year there will be a little more space for them to circulate. Northam said the city has OK'd an expansion plan, which will add the aforementioned "T" at the top of Main Street. The live music component will be moved to that section so it provides a little distance between the speakers and the vendors. It will also provide a little more space for the wine sales area, Northam said.

Vendors joining for the first time include South Fork Grill. Antonio Campolio, the new executive chef for The Marc will also make his Feast debut. New wineries include Amavi Cellars and Pepper Bridge.

Feast is a cooperative event organized by the downtown foundation, Tourism Walla Walla and members of the local wine and restaurant industry.

For more information, visit www.feastwallawalla.com or call 529-8755.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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