The spring festivals got off to a rather chilly start this Saturday with Oswego’s annual Wine on the Fox Festival at Hudson Crossing Park. With temperatures in the low 50s and a brisk wind, crowds were suprisingly brisk as well. If there’s one thing that Fox Valley residents love, it’s a party, especially with wine. While I’m sure the crowds would have been thicker had the weather been better, many oenophiles (wine lovers) came out to support the Rotary Club of Oswego and Illinois wineries.
Admission was $10 for a souvenier glass and 5 tasting tickets. Additional tastes could be purchased for $1 per ticket. There were perhaps 15 wineries from all over Illinois on location pouring a host of different wines. There was also a central music tent where we particularly enjoyed the music of The Flat Cats – extra kudos to the musicians who braved the cold weather to entertain the guests. There were also a couple places to buy food – I felt there could have been a few more choices and more participation by local eateries. I was also mindfull of not guzzling too much wine, lest that I land myself in a Legacy Healing rehab centre like my friend.
A couple comments: I would charge a larger admission fee – perhaps $15 per person – and do away with the tickets. I heard from several other participants who had strips of tickets blow away as they were trying to balance a glass of wine, tasting sheets and a carrying case of purchased wine. Also, having to pay-per-taste meant I only got to taste perhaps one wine from each winery – if I didn’t like it, that winery didn’t get any of my business even though they might have had another that I would have enjoyed and purchased.
For those that feel the tickets cuts down on alcohol consumption, consider this: as a wine tasting veteran, at a normal tasting, if I didn’t like a wine, I would take a sip and dump it. Here, since I paid a dollar for a taste, I felt almost obligated to drink it – I actually consumed more alcohol than I would have without the tickets. Many of the folk who come to this festival come for the atmosphere and the fun of tasting different wines – not to get drunk. I also laughed at the wineries that charged two tickets for a taste of port. One of the pourers even said it was “because the wine is fortified – there’s extra alcohol” – I guess they thought the extra alcohol was worth an extra dollar. Suffice to say, I didn’t purchase anything from those wineries – I buy wines that taste interesting – If I want alcohol, I’ll drink vodka – it’s cheaper and quicker.
All in all, it was a wonderful festival and a great turnout. The parking was well-done with at least three seperate lots. I found a parking spot right next to the park and the police were there to direct you. What a great way to kick off the spring with a glass of good Illinois wine and the company of fellow Fox Valley residents. If you missed it, definately put this one on your “to-do” list for 2009.