HARKER HEIGHTS — Wine was king at the fifth annual Central Texas Food, Wine and Brew Festival on Saturday at the Harker Heights Community Park.
“This festival has something for everyone and it shows the community that you don’t need to travel to Austin or Dallas for things to do,” said Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce President Bill Kozlik.
Fun for the entire family began at 8 a.m. with a community 5k Stompede followed by a free kids run at 9 a.m. for children 11 and younger.
From its modest beginnings — where about 500 people walked through its gates — the festival has grown into a community staple, drawing close to 3,000 people this year, Kozlik said.
“We are loving all the different wineries and all the great food,” said first time festival attendee Stormee Wood, a Killeen resident. “I will definitely come back next year.”
This year, the festival boasted 68 vendors and 12 wineries.
“This is a totally different thing to do on a weekend and it’s making for a great girls day out so far,” said Iris Medellin, a Killeen resident.
With temperatures soaring above 95 degrees, Wood and Medellin — like many other festival goers — sought refuge from the sun’s rays under a shaded tree where they enjoyed sampling of several wines from local wineries.
Salado Creek Winery has been a staple at the event for the past five years.
“This is a popular festival that’s not only in our own backyard, but it’s consistently well attended by locals every year,” said Jon Moore, co-owner of Salado Creek Winery.
“Being that this is such a transient community because of Fort Hood, this festival allows us to get in front of the changing population every year.”
Festival-goers enjoyed five wine tastings, a souvenir wine glass and unlimited food samples from the many Central Texas restaurants.
Lots of variety
The high temperatures didn’t deter thirsty wine tasters, instead it merely whet their appetites. The Community Park Pavilion offered a broad range of Central Texas wines, including wineries from Waco to Austin.
“We were so excited to participate again that we were the first vendors to sign up this year,” said Kelsey Kilter, owner of Sweet Tr-eatery in Temple. “This is just a great event all around.”
In addition to sampling area wines and feasting on local fare, other festival highlights included a wine 101 food and wine pairing class by H-E-B, a barbecue brisket cook-off, a Fuddrucker’s one-pound hamburger eating contest, a Central Texas College culinary salsa cook-off and live bands playing throughout the night.
“The continued success of this event would not be possible without the hard work of our volunteers and sponsors,” Kozlik said.
“This event is all about getting people together and showing the community what their city has to offer them.”