Midlothian artists and businesses owners hope expanding the Chamber of Commerce's Wine Walks to a Wine and Arts Festival will strengthen their businesses.
The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce is hosting the festival from 3:30 – 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Seven businesses along 8th Street and Avenue F will be hosting wineries handing out samples of their products to participants. Artists, venders and musicians will also be set up on Avenue F between 7th and 8th Streets.
The chamber began hosting Wine Walks in 2014 as a way to increase traffic to downtown businesses, said Cammy Jackson, president of the chamber.
“Our downtown is cute and full now but lots of people don't know what's down here,” Jackson said. “It's our mission to be a catalyst for economic growth.”
And costumers flock in during the Wine Walks, said Joyce Doskocil owner of Gemini Moon Boutique, whose shop has participated in every Wine Walk.
“This last Wine Walk, we more than doubled our sales for the day,” she said.
Those customers returned to the boutique over the next months too, Doskocil added. Arranging the floor plan to provide space for the winery staff to set up their table inside the business is not a huge problem, she explained. Wine Walk participants come in the front door to sample the wines.
“If they want to shop, they drift back this way,” she said, motioning to the back of the store. “We try to get our decorations together. We also put together a gift basket and people can register for that drawing.”
About 30 people registered for the first Wine Walk that was held on a Thursday evening in June, Jackson said, but 100 people participated. The second Wine Walk, held this summer, attracted about 200 people, she said.
“In the back of my mind, I knew I would want this to turn into more than a Wine Walk,” she said. “When I put together the committee for this one, I knew I want this to become a wine and arts festival. I was thinking maybe next spring, but the committee said, why not now.”
Anyone can listen to the musicians or visit the downtown businesses and venders, Jackson said, but those who wish to participate in the wine tasting must register with the chamber. Registration is $25 per person on the day of the event, but only $20 per person online at the chamber website www.midlothianchamber.org up to the day before the event. Registration includes a bracelet telling winery staff the person is over 21, tickets for up to two samples from every winery and a wine glass, Jackson said.
During a wine walk, alcohol is only served inside of or on the property of consenting businesses, she said. Participants receive an ounce of wine for each ticked and the property owner and winery personnel are responsible for providing a container for people to pour out leftover wine before moving to the next business and ensuring people don't leave the premises with alcohol, she said.
Venders will be set up on Aveenue F between 8th Street and 7th Street so that section of the street will be closed, Jackson said, but 8th Street will remain open during the event.
Several of those venders are Midlothian artists trying to make a name for themselves.
Sara Thornhill, who grew up and lives in Midlothian, and her father started the business Heart of Texas Design in May to help her pay for college. The pair uses reclaimed wood to make furniture, wall art and every thing else customer want, she said. One of their most popular items are cornhole boards used for bean bag tosses that Thornhill decorates with custom engravings and paint jobs, she said.
“I want people to see the quality of our work and feel the quality of our wood,” she said.
Events like the chambers's Fall Fest and Wine and Arts Festival are great ways for her online, social media driven business to connect with customers face to face and for customers to actually see what kind of products they can expect, she said.
Thornhill will be at the festival with some pre-made items people can buy and will be taking orders for custom work, she said.
“We haven't said no to a project yet,” Thornhill said.
Artist Lanie Deal isn't a Midlothian native, but moved into the area several years ago. She currently works in a flower shop but paints and crafts on the side.
“I have been painting and I need to get rid of some of them or I will have a wall full of paintings,” she said.
She has sold some of her works to friends and family but wants to grow her art from a hobby to an occupation. Her florist work influences her painting, she said. She uses plant clippings and spray paint to create impressionistic works.
This is her first public sale and she is keeping her exceptions reasonable, she said.
“I'll be happy if I make my $25 booth fee back and if more, I can get Christmas presents for people,” she said.
For other businesses, the Wine and Arts Festival is a time to network and socialize, said Kent Bush, associate real estate sales manager with Century 21 Judge Fite Company who will be hosting a winery. The real estate office will open its lobby to participants who need to sit down, grab a snack, use the free Wi-Fi or talk, he said. It is a great way to support the community, he said.
“The wine walk last years was a huge success. As long as they are out their working, we will continue to help them,” he said.
The economic benefits not as obvious in the real estate business, but he said he hopes the event will make people remember Century 21 the next time they are in the market for property.
Sponsors of the event include Leasing Impressions, Savvy Boheme, First Texas Homes, the UPS Store, Century 21 Judge Fite Company, the Midlothian Veterinary Clinic, Carrington Coleman and Vista Turf.
Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.