(Sarasota, Florida) Forks & Corks, the four-day food and wine festival presented by The Sarasota-Manatee Originals (SMO), was "a resounding success, surpassing all records from the past six festivals," says Kate Atkin, executive director of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals.
The festival, which ran January 24-27, 2014, featured interactive food and wine seminars, vintner events at area Originals restaurants, a trade tasting for restaurants, retail and hotels, and The Grand Tasting
at The Ringling.
says the all-day event at the museum, The Grand Tasting
, attracted more than 1,200 paid guests and sold out eight minutes after tickets went on sale.
"We experienced the fastest ticket sell-out ever," says Atkin
According to Atkin
, more than 540 guests attended these events, which included casual tastings, luncheons, mingling events, and multi-coursed formal dinners.
Thirty-four winemakers from around the globe were guests of honor at the winemaker events.
Approximately $100,000 in retail wine sales was recorded during the weekend.
A main objective of Forks & Corks
is to reinforce the Sarasota-Manatee
region as a significant culinary destination.
"The restaurant industry is a vital part of our community's economic make-up," says Atkin
"In terms of how we sell Sarasota to the world, we see our part as integral to the big picture as are our beaches, climate and cultural amenities.
says that her
team was able to analyze that eight percent of this year's ticket buyers lived outside of the state of Florida and 11 percent were Florida residents-but reside outside of Sarasota and Manatee counties.
"These statistics show us that we're able to attract a sizable group of people from outside of this region," says Atkin
, adding that the festival is an important way for Originals restaurants to market themselves to both residents and visitors.
"Participating restaurants almost always report increased revenues immediately following the event," she
"The Grand Tasting
is an invaluable tool to introduce menus and services to hundreds of people who may never have stepped through their doors."
"We're still beaming," says Atkin
"It's a great feeling to be part of an event that delights so many people-and raises money and awareness for the community."
Next year's festival is January 23-26, 2015.
"We're already getting requests from vintners to be a part of it, and from the public to purchase tickets," Atkin