Those gigantic construction vehicles have been removed and the temporary chain-link fencing is being rearranged. And by Saturday afternoon, the lovely Big Spring International Park East will still be the site of Big Spring Crush, Huntsville first wine festival, which will offer 200 wines in a verdant outdoor setting under an array of illuminated tents.
Ashley Ryals’ event planning business Homegrown Huntsville is producing the Big Spring Crush, which is set for 4 – 9 p.m. Sept. 27. “Ideally I would have loved for the entire park area to be part of this festival, and obviously when we first came up with this concept we imagined utilizing every bit,” Ryals says. “But when we first scheduled with the city to lease the park they were very upfront about that construction taking place.”
Sinkholes near the grotto area have relegated that corner of the park off limits to the public since late-May, and contractor Miller & Miller is scheduled to complete repair of the area around the original Big Spring basin and canal by Nov. 13. There’s still some dug-up ground, but it’s east of the festival grounds, which Ryals says have not needed to be condensed.
If you’re going, what you should know
To allow for necessary planning, such as ordering wines and glasses, Big Spring Crush cut off ticket sales after Sept. 7, in an effort to help the festival’s debut run as smoothly as possible. Ryals says 1,700 tickets were sold, almost doubling the goal of 1,000.
If you’re one of those 1,700, you can check-in to Big Spring Crush by two different ways: By printing off the ticket(s) you were emailed after ordering, or by presenting the credit card you purchased your ticket(s) with. Blankets are allowed inside festival grounds, but chairs and outside food and drinks are not.
Ryals says, “If people want to be really prepared I would suggest going to our website and printing out the map posted there because it lists every single wine that will be served, so they could go ahead and map-out their wine tasting tour before they get there, and then make your way around the festival.”
It’s a strategy reminiscent of the planning music fans do for Bonnaroo and other mega-music festivals, highlighting grids to make sure they can see certain bands at certain times on certain stages.
A Big Spring Crush ticket purchase brings with it a commemorative tasting glass, and unlimited samples of wines from 80 or so wine makers, including Chalk Hill, Gloria Ferrer Carneros, Long Board, San Angelo and Joseph Carr, that will be at Big Spring Crush.
Wine dining and the five-hour gig blues
The finalized Big Spring Crush food vendor list is in place. Local food trucks Bad Newz BBQ (barbecue sandwiches and ribs), Food Fighters Bustaurant (sandwiches and burgers) and Crave Heat (Tex-Mex), and restaurant Mezza Luna (Mediterranean) will be on-site, offering some wine-inspired items as part of their menu. For example, Crave Heat will be serving items such as Chardonnay-imbued “Adult” Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Arugula Salad with Prosciutto and Asiago and Parmesan Garlic Fries with White Truffle Oil and Sea Salt.
Beloved Huntsville blues trio Microwave Dave & The Nukes (a fave of novelist Stephen King) will be the festival’s lone musical act. “They’re going to be taking breaks of course but they’re going to be playing the entire time,” Ryals says.
The Big Spring Crush grounds will be dotted with twenty 10-by-10 tents and two 30-by-50 tents.
“All of the wine tents are going to be up-lit with colors. So on the festival map, all 200 wines are listed and they’re color-coordinated with what tent they’re being poured at,” Ryals says. “And then we’re also going to have table linens in that tent the same color. So you will have no problem recognizing what tents are blue, what tents are orange.”
Homegrown Huntsville is known for its Dine & Dash downtown restaurant-spotlighting tours and Brew Hop craft-brewery trolley tour. Big Spring Crush represents the venture’s biggest event to date. Ryals, who first started thinking about a Huntsville wine festival at least three years ago, has come to the realization that’s about to finally crystalize.
Asked what wines she’s picked out to taste, Ryals says, “Am I going have time to taste wine? ”