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East County Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 1 year ago

Festival chooses Premier site in Lakewood Ranch

The Suncoast Food and Wine Festival returns for its 17th annual event.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

For those familiar with the Lakewood Ranch Rotary's Suncoast Food and Wine Festival, the venue will look a little different when it is held Nov. 10.

Steve Schlueter, the new chairman of the festival, said the site switched to Premier Sports Campus after the sale of the Sarasota Polo Club.

“This venue has some neat options,” Schlueter said. “We don’t have to hire any shuttle buses. You can just pull up your car and walk in. Not hiring buses saves us money, and it’s a little more money to give back (to charities).”

The festival is going into its 17th year and has raised $1.6 million for charity. Tickets for the festival are $85 and have to be purchased in advance. 

The festival caps its ticket sales at 2,000 people. Last year, the festival sold 1,800 tickets. The VIP access area already is sold out. 

About 160 volunteers are needed to run the festival.

“Everybody in Rotary Club is a professional at some level," Schlueter said. 

This year's festival will feature 43 restaurants, 250 wines and craft beers, including a tasting hour provided by Naughty Monk Brewery.

The band Kettle of Fish is the headliner.

While Schlueter is running the event for the first time, he has gone to the event most years.

“I have to say, it’s a lot more fun as a consumer,” he said.

He said a new feature will be a waiting area for Uber and Lyft so guests can concentrate on tasting adult beverages.

“This way, we know they’re safe," Schlueter said.


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