Highlands Food and Wine festival-goers keep on Truckin’ despite threat of rain

HFW Truckin’ event draws big crowds at The Bascom campus on Friday

Clad in raincoats and prepared for the worst, those attending Highlands Food and Wine Truckin’ event leisurely strolled along The Bascom’s campus lined with food trucks, sipping on a cold beverage, and listening to live music.

“I think it’s great,” said Adrian Coakley from Washington D.C. “I had a friend who told me about it, so I had to come out and see it. It’s such a beautiful area, and you can’t go wrong with good food and wine. And beer.”

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The Lone Bellow out of Brooklyn,N.Y., performed at Highlands Food and Wine Truckin’ event on  Friday.

Partner at Eleven Events and brainchild of HFW, Casey Reid, said all the events that are part of the HFW festival each have their own flavor and vibe.

“With all these different events over the weekend, we wanted to give each event a unique personality that attracts all kinds of demographics. Every event needs to have a different feel.”

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The Bascom campus was packed with festival attendees from all over the country including several media outlets covering the festivities.

Several years ago, Reid was tasked with re-imagining what HFW could be after 10 years of being a purely culinary event.

“We made it a multiple day event,” said Reid. “Put heads in beds (visitors using hotels) and between events they’re out there shopping. And this year were seeing a lot more of the younger demographic, so we’re hitting a really wide range.”

Sherri Jackson of Greenville, S.C., is in Highlands for a girl’s weekend and said the atmosphere of the Truckin’ event couldn’t be better.

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The food trucks were lined in a ring around the stage and as people got their fill of food and drink people gathered to listen to The Lone Bellow.

“It’s fantastic,” said Jackson. “There’s great music and craft beer. The food is great, the people are nice, and there’s beautiful scenery here.”

Jenny Skeltan is visiting Highlands from Gladsden, Ala., and after visiting last year’s Truckin’ event she had to make the journey back for seconds.

“I love the Truckin’ event, I’m so happy to be here,” said Skeltan. “The food is fantastic, the atmosphere is perfect, I would move here tomorrow.”

While attendees made their way through the cornucopia of food and beverage options in the heart of the party was a stage with music by Hugh Masterson (and friends) out of Nashville and The Lone Bellow, a trio out of Brooklyn, N.Y., Kevin Black is one of the musicians to accompany Masterson on stage and said it’s always a good time making the trip up the mountain for a gig.

“There’s great food with such a relaxed environment,” said Black. “Today was such a great crowd. It started out slow because of a little rain but it picked up throughout the set.”

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Vendors from all over the tri-state area including Backwoods Bakery were on hand keeping bellies full throughout the Truckin’ event.

Lead singer and guitarist of The Lone Bellow, Zach Williams, said after performing all over the country, there are some shows you can’t wait to get back to.

“The people that run this are really warm and sweet,” said Williams. “Now and then you play a show somewhere and you know you want to come back. That’s exactly how it is now.”

He said even though the weather was a little dreary, the crowd responded to the music all the same.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to have such a beautiful exchange with the crowd,” said Williams. “They carried us.”

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Craft beers, wines, and hard liquors were on hand for all to sample.

Tonya Feilke of Knoxville, Tenn., attended Truckin’ for the first time and said it was perfect weather for Highlands.

“I like it (Truckin’ event), I like it a lot,” she said. “You can order all kinds of different things and the weather is just great. It’s Highlands, it’s always beautiful in Highlands, even if it’s raining.”

Charley Bible traveled with Fielke from Knoxville and was thrilled to attend the event.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Bible. “We ate at about five different trucks. They all had unique freshly prepared food. And I’ve been to a lot of festivals where you spend more time in line than enjoying the festival, that is not the case here. There’s an excellent truck-to-people ratio. Plus, it’s a great vibe.”

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Guitarist and Vocalist Brian Elmquist strums away to the delight of a packed crowd at HFW Truckin’ event on Friday.

It was the first time Matthew Praytor of Greenville, S.C., made his way to HFW.

“I think it’s really good,” said Praytor. “The atmosphere, the vibe, the rain held off, plus the grilled cheeses are absolutely amazing. I don’t know what cheese they used but they got it right.”

Hunter Reid said Truckin’ is the perfect way to decompress from the stresses of life.

“Every once in a while, you have to disconnect, slow down, and unplug,” he said. “Turn off your phone and engage with people.

The Main Event is 12-4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10 on Main Street between 4th and 5th Streets.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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