Eat, Drink and Be Merry

On March 27, 2014, the doors of Billy Bob’s Texas will swing open to host the kickoff event for the inaugural Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. A goal of the festival is to infuse historic venues and local flavors to create an unforgettable experience that is uniquely Fort Worth.

The festival executive director and co-founder, Russell Kirkpatrick, wanted to find a way to tie the four-day celebration to the Stockyards. Recently recruited Chef Mark Hitri at Billy Bob’s 81 Club initiated the thought process, said Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick currently serves as president of the Tarrant County Restaurant Association and spends most of his days working as assistant general manager at Reata Restaurant. His involvement with the Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit inspired the idea to bring a food and wine festival to Fort Worth. Tickets to that event sold out in 11 minutes this year. “Half the talent [at Buffalo Gap] was from Fort Worth,” said Kirkpatrick. “There’s a market for this.”

He and Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival co-founder Mike Micallef, also of Reata Restaurant, formed a committee of local foodies to plan next year’s event. Expect pop-up dining experiences, say for instance, a wine makers’ luncheon on the stage at Bass Performance Hall. Don’t be surprised to find a 300-pound steer roasting in the middle of Sundance Square. At this point, no idea is too big or too small.

“I consider myself extremely blessed,” said Kirkpatrick who always thought the latter part of his career would be spent working for a nonprofit. He’s accomplishing his “pipe dream” by originating the Fort Worth Food and Wine Foundation to provide grants and scholarships to assist young entrepreneurs in the food and wine industry.

Keep up with the Festival and share your thoughts about Fort Worth cuisine at where Kirkpatrick will blog weekly with updates and food news.