Photo by Courtney Dabney
Crafted cocktails and savory samplings are what Fort Worth foodies have come to expect each year at the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, but this year's event — set to take place April 4 – 7 — will see some significant changes.
The festival, which benefits the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation — a nonprofit organization that raises funds for local grant programs, awarding culinary scholarships to promising students and equipment to local programs — is spicing up the lineup for the 2019 season. In previous years, the events scattered across multiple venues from the Pier 1 Imports Building to Panther Island. This year, the Heart of the Ranch will host all but one event, as Desserts After Dark will still be held at Firestone and Robertson's lavish Whiskey Ranch.
"We've always wanted to have more of a festival feel," says executive director Julie Eastman. "That's why it made sense to change venues and add more music and lounge spaces. It has allowed us to add even more personality to the festival and to provide additional photo opportunities for festival-goers."
Here's what to expect.
Tacos and Tequila will take place April 4 from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. Creative tacos will be everything from upscale to down home, trendy to traditional. Specialty sipping tequilas and hometown beers will be on display as well.
Main Event will feature artisan producers and crafters for the first time this year, on April 5 from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. As always, guests will have the chance to whet their palate with pours from more than 100 wines and have a chance to chat with vintners and distributors. Craft beers and spirits will also be showcased along with a show-stopping array of eats by some of the most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs around the area.
Desserts After Dark will feature a skyline view of downtown from its perch at Whiskey Ranch from 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. on April 5. A collection of 14 local mixologists will craft whiskey-centric cocktails to sip alongside fantasy creations by some of Fort Worth's top bakers and sweet-makers.
Culinary Corral will take the place of the event known as Rise and Dine this year, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on April 6. No longer just a brunch event, the Culinary Corral is a major upgrade that will include a tasting tent, a beer garden, a cork yard, live music and a variety of pop-ups, spanning four hours. Another addition this year is an artisan marketplace featuring Fort Worth makers offering: handmade skin care products, leather goods, unique house wares and more. "All we want to do is promote Fort Worth," Eastman says. Expect a demonstration featuring a giant wheel of Parmesan, iPhone photography classes and wine sabering.
Burgers, Brews and Blues will be familiar, since the Heart of the Ranch has long been its home. It will take place on April 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring craft breweries, mini-burgers hot-off-the-grill and music by Miss Marcy & her Texas SugarDaddy’s. To maximize space and flow, no lawn chairs will be allowed this year, but seating and tables have been added to the layout.
Ring of Fire replaces the more traditional barbecue event this year, scheduled from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. on April 7. This cookout concept will include barbecue, of course, but will also take advantage of the new outdoor venue at the Heart of the Ranch to showcase a wide variety of live fire cooking demonstrations and non-cue options — all set to the tunes of Johnny Cash tribute band Walkin' The Line.
Tickets are on sale now and events are already selling out. Parking will also be available anywhere at The Shops at Clearfork with a shuttle running to Heart of the Ranch. More information can be found on the festival’s website.