MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Uncorked is back in action in the Grand Strand. The hope is that this year will be the first step to taking the wine and spirits festival event to the next level.
You may remember last year when the event was abruptly called off just 30 days before starting. Organizers say a ruling from the SC Department of Revenue banning alcohol donations to be made to non-profits forced them to postpone the event. Now this issue has been worked out, and the Grand Strand is gearing up for another year.
The goal is to get the word out that it's back on, and organizers expect it will take time to build it back up to the usual crowds. This year, they're spending money to get noticed: The Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association has pumped $50,000 into advertising in the different markets like Wilmington, Charlotte, Greenville, and Columbia.
For President Stephen Greene, the hope is that the event will draw people to the area for more than just beaches and golf, but also our culinary scene.
"Each year we hope to build," said Greene. "Obviously this event has had its ups and downs and what we're hoping to do is stabilize it, grow it and continue to improve and grow the showcase of the culinary scene along the Grand Strand."
The event has new organizers within the Association, but that's not all that's new this year. Greene says this is the first time they are stretching out the event to include a Restaurant Week, one dedicated to the Grand Strand. The restaurant week held in January is a statewide initiative, and it's hard for area restaurants to join in since it falls in the middle of the off season. Having a second, local one in the beginning of the summer gives Myrtle Beach a chance to show tourists the more than 1,700 restaurants in the area, which is more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the US.
There's also a new event called Brews on the Boulevard, which is a craft beer festival to showcase the growing local brew scene. Not everything will be new; festival favorites are coming back, like the tasting trolleys and the Grand Tasting Tent.
Even if you have no plans to attend, organizers want this event to benefit you. They pushed the festival date from the spring to the first weekend in June, hoping it will be better timing to help the overall local economy.
"This first weekend is a little bit soft in relation to the summer season," explained Greene. "But it's a great time to get people, convince them to come down on a beautiful weekend, enjoy food, enjoy wine, enjoy some spirits and some beers and really hopefully kick off our summer season."
This festival is underway and runs through Sunday, June 8th.
For a full list of events for Coastal Uncorked, visit the website here: http://www.mbhospitality.org/coastal-uncorked/.