PHOTOSFROMTHEAIR.COM | SUN
An estimated 10,000 people turn out for Food and
Wine on Pine in Anna Maria to sample some of
the area’s finest food and drink.
ANNA MARIA –Thousands flocked to Pine Avenue Saturday to sample the best in food, wine, beer, music and art that the area has to offer at the third Food and Wine on Pine event.
“We expected 2,500 people and the Sheriff’s Office deputies said there were 10,000,” said event organizer Caryn Hodge, of the Chiles Group. “I was so excited about the turnout; people came from all over. It was a great day.
“All the vendors said people were really interested in the wine and food, and the artists and music were fabulous. I had 150 volunteers who were just wonderful, and the people from CrossPointe were there all day doing what they do best – service.”
“The concept was to do something to showcase the best our area has to offer,” event founder Ed Chiles explained. “I’m so impressed with the quality of everything – the restaurants brought their A game, the music and art were fabulous, there were things for the kids and the historical characters imparted a sense of history.”
“The greenest little Main Street in America sure knows how to put on a party. This happens because of Caryn and her captains and troops of volunteers. They were superb. It was so well organized. It’s a classy event that people go to and say, ‘Wow.’”
Food vendors impressed
The booth of the Waterfront restaurant, of South Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria, was one with a long, steady line of people throughout the day. Owner Jason Suzor said one thing that made the event special was the food vendors that offered was so different from what is usually offered at festivals.
“It was a wonderful event, and there was a lot of great food,” Suzor said. “It was hard work, but a lot of fun. Caryn and her group did a really nice job. I heard a lot of great comments from people.”
Adam Ellis, of the Blue Marlin restaurant on Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, said, “It was good day. We had a crowd all day and sold out of food. It was very well organized, and everything we wanted we got.”
Sean Murphy, of the Beach Bistro and Eat here, said, “It was a great event and it was nice to see so many neighbors. Ed and his staff did a great job of publicizing and developing it.”
Steve Traves, owner of AMI Outfitters on Pine Avenue said it was the best sales day of the year, and the event attracted a quality, refined group of attendees.
“We had a people counter and were thrilled to see 460 people come through the store,” Traves said. “It was a great event, and the people who did the work did a fantastic job. I would like to see more events where the street is closed to traffic.”
An army of volunteers
CrossPointe Fellowship offered not only a host of volunteers, but games for kids including the ever popular green slime event.
Ed Moss, pastor of CrossPointe, said, “We had a blast with the kids and adults. It was an honor to serve with Caryn and the leaders of Food and Wine and slime on Pine. They did an absolutely outstanding job of organizing the event.
“The best part for us was we love anything that brings the community together. I love watching friends get reacquainted and interact. It’s a really good thing to see people connect.”
Moss also thanked Roser Church for the use of its parking lot during the event.
Cindy Thompson, a volunteer who is well known for her festival organizing abilities, said volunteers began arriving at 4 a.m. to set up tents for vendors by 6 a.m.
“I was so proud to be a part of this event,” Thompson said. “I could not be more impressed with Caryn and the job she did. Everything was so organized.
“The entire community worked together and made something magical. It is the best event in Manatee County and then when it’s over, Ed gives all the money away.”
Priscilla Seewald was one of the volunteers who dressed in period costume depicting Island historical figures. Seewald, who played Lena Phelps, the Island’s first school teacher, said, “I was amazed.
People were so interested in everything we said. They were so responsive. It was a great experience.
“The vendors were wonderful, and there was music for everyone from oldies to an Italian singer that I could picture on the back of a gondola. Whoever planned it did a very good job.”
Dusty Crane, a member of the AMI Historical Society who played Annie Silver, said, “It was a fun experience. It added flavor and depth to the event and brought enrichment to our history.”
Her husband, Jon, who played baseball great Warren Spahn, said he got the most reaction out of people who were interested in baseball and wanted to talk about the game and players.
Hodge said the event was dedicated to Carl Miller, who for the past two years played John Roser, but passed away since last year’s event.
“He played the part with so much relish,” she said. “He researched the character and was so enthusiastic and a joy.”
Chiles presented a framed photo of Miller in costume as John Roser to his wife, Ilene, at the event.
Hodge reminded readers to save the date – the first weekend in May – for next year’s event.