Throwing a successful event is hard work. Months of pre-planning needs to occur to ensure that everything, from the food and the entertainment down to the cups you’ll use, is organized and ready.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Photography: Arrogant Watcher

However, what is most important is ensuring the guests who arrive will get something from the event, and that it won’t fall into the depths of their memories as just another social function they attended at one point in time.

For the past year, Melbourne Main Street has been busy at work organizing the 4th annual Downtown Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (FAWF). With 40 restaurants participating in this year’s event, along with local entertainers and influencers, Melbourne Main Street has worked tirelessly, doing its best to ensure that all the pieces are in the proper place, and that guests will leave this year’s event excited for the next.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Photography: Arrogant Watcher

Unlike other popular food and wine festivals, the menu options at FAWF change from year to year, so each festival brings with it new dishes to savor. And, each year brings new and exciting entertainment to enjoy as you stroll from vendor to vendor. This year, FAWF will have a steel drum player, a live band and dueling pianos. Already, the event is shaping up to be unforgettable.

Food for thought

While fun for the community, Melbourne Main Street isn’t just throwing this event for the sake of throwing a party – though it is an incredible party; the proceeds made from FAWF will go directly toward the continued growth and beautification of Downtown Melbourne, and $10,000 will go directly to Street to Home, a local nonprofit helping the homeless population of Brevard County.

“We’ve been supporting [Street to Home] for several years, and we are increasing our contribution this year,” said Kim Agee, board chair for the Melbourne Regional Chamber and owner of Agee Consulting.

Photography: Arrogant Watcher

“They have worked diligently in Downtown Melbourne to help eradicate the homelessness within the business district, get them the services that they need … and their greatest goal goes with their name, ‘Street to Home.’ They’re trying to get [the homeless] into housing and give them case management support, get them connected and give them the funding they’re supposed to be getting. A lot of them could go on social security, or veteran’s benefits … things like that.

“It’s a great organization,” she continued.

So, guests will not only receive some of the best food and alcohol the Space Coast has to offer, but visitors can feel good knowing they’re contributing to a great cause. And, the improvements made to Downtown Melbourne will give back to the community for years to come.

Bigger and better

The ability to promise an increased donation before the event even begins speaks volumes to the growth the event has seen since its inception. Akili Phillips, marketing director with Melbourne Main Street, said that in the event’s second year, they sold 1,100 tickets. Now, they’ve sold 2,500. Agee and Phillips shared that they plan to cap the event at 2,500 guests because they want the experience to be well worth the ticket price and they don’t want to overburden all the vendors.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Photography: Arrogant Watcher

“We want [the restaurants] to be able to prepare strong culinary presentations,” said Agee. “And if you grow the event too much, you begin to lose some of that intimacy.”

“It’s an exciting time to showcase their talents and their skills,” said Phillips.

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Photography: Arrogant Watcher

Though the event attracts visitors from across the state, all the vendors are located on the Space Coast. The event truly is a celebration of all the culinary talent located here and is an opportunity for locals to find their new favorite restaurants. And of course, this event gives Space Coast residents an evening to enjoy all that Downtown Melbourne has to offer.

“Our mission for Melbourne Main Street is to promote the main street in Melbourne and Downtown Melbourne and bring people in so that they can understand, see and experience everything that is happening in Downtown Melbourne,” said Agee. “It’s super vibrant now and we really want to expose everyone to that.”

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival
Photography: Arrogant Watcher

Reminders for this year’s event:

  • There are three entrances instead of one: Municipal, the railroad tracks and near Livingston St. Livingston will also be a valet area.
  • Melbourne Main Street is coordinating an Uber drop-off/pickup point, so consider using uber this year – especially if you plan to drink.
  • The shops and restaurants in Downtown Melbourne will still be open to non-event guests, so still feel free to roam around and support your favorite local business owners.

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