SMITHFIELD - The wine was flowing, the music was relaxing and the festivities continued Saturday during the third annual Friendship Wine and Food Festival despite the threat of rain.
The two-day festival featured local food vendors, non-stop musical entertainment and a slew of vintages made by Ohio wineries. Saturday the crowds turned out for the mellow event to sip some vino or listen to jazz and swing music. The festival was proceeding smoothly with the larger crowds expected later Saturday evening, according to Roger Hilty, festival co-organizer and member of the Friendship Park Board.
"It's going well, considering the weather," said Hilty, adding Friday's high humidity and temperatures also were a factor. "It started out a little slow, but we're hoping the numbers bounce back. We have a lot of great entertainment tonight."
A TOAST — John Black, left, co-owner of the Blacksheep Winery, and musician Roger Hoard take a moment to enjoy the vino during the third annual Friendship Wine and Food Festival Saturday at Friendship Park in Smithfield. Saturday’s events wrapped up the two-day festival devoted to music, food entertainment and Ohio-created wines. -- Mark Miller
Hilty said although the festival was going according to plan, he did have a warning about future festivals.
"The festival is in jeopardy for next year," he said. "We are hoping for more support from the public and sponsors for this great event."
Still, Saturday saw dozens of patrons milling about the food and wine booths, sampling local vintages, shopping for crafts or enjoying a meal at one of the food tents. John Black, co-owner of the Blacksheep Winery in Adena, said wine-lovers were interested in what Ohio and the area had to offer.
"It was slow earlier, but the music has been great," said Black, who co-owns the winery along with his wife Becky. "Now with the weather changing it looks like it's going to be a good day."
Black said the event was a venue for showcasing the variety and quality of Ohio-made wines.
"It's a very nice event," he said of the festival. "We're very lucky to have this. The people have been very nice, the food is good and so are the wines."
And it was a laid-back atmosphere, with couples sipping wine and watching the entertainment from tables in front of the bandstand. Others sat at the food tents and enjoyed a meal courtesy of several local caterers and restaurants, including Froehlich's Classic Corner and Catering.
"It's just getting started," said Debbie Froehlich, co-owner with her husband Greg of the restaurant in Steubenville. "Yesterday was hot, but we're very happy to be here. We hope it continues next year. It's a really fun event."
Kathy Zalenski of Zalenski's Family Eatery and Pub in Wintersville said the event was a way to connect with future potential patrons of the restaurant.
"I think it's been a wondeful event," she said. "It's been a great success for us. I also think it's a great event for Jefferson County."