Wine Downtown caters to sold-out crowd

By Carlie Kollath

TUPELO – More than 175 people spent a few hours strolling the downtown streets of Tupelo, leading organizers to deem Thursday night’s Wine Downtown a success.
Thirteen downtown businesses were on the tour, which sold out earlier in the week. Most had wine samples and paired hor d’oeuvres themed around a country or state.
The event ended with a documentary screening at the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau and a party on the rooftop at Park Heights.
The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association office kicked off the tour at 5 p.m., and organizers said they met many attendees from around the region and some from out of state.
“The weather is perfect for it,” said Daphene Hendricks with the Main Street Association. “It couldn’t be better.”
Attendees represented a good mix in ages and in gender. Allie Vance West at Main Street noted that there were several “girls’ night out” groups.
Kory Rogers, co-chairman of the Tupelo Young Professionals, was touring with a group of about 10 other TYPs.
“I think this is a great idea,” she said. “It’s something for us to do. We – the younger people – are always looking for something to do.”
Jim McCullough, who was in Rogers’ group, added, “It’s something different for downtown. We have concerts, we have festivals, but this brings in a new appeal.”
The wine aspect certainly was a draw for some people. Couples like Butch and Betty Harris of Plantersville have been to wine festivals and said they were thrilled with the opportunity to support downtown Tupelo and have a wine tasting.
Rebecca Castles and Danny Newman are wine enthusiasts, as well. The engaged couple bought their tickets early and used the evening to celebrate their anniversary.
“We love wine so we thought this would be a good chance to try different ones,” Castles said.
She suggested that the event be repeated later this year, an idea frequently voiced throughout the evening.
Initial reports seem to indicate the event was good for the retailers, as well as attendees.
“We are very, very excited,” said Kim Root, co-owner of Swirlz. “We’ve seen a lot of regular customers and a lot of new people.”
Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of Main Street, said the event will have to be evaluated after-the-fact before a final decision is made to repeat it next year. But it looks like the organizers are leaning toward a second Wine Downtown, she said.
“Based on the buzz and response in the last two days, I think we have a great opportunity to expand the event and make it an annual event,” Brangenberg said.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.