Food & Wine Classic canceled

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MANCHESTER — While area chefs and hotel managers were disappointed that the Manchester Food & Wine Classic was canceled two days before it was to have begun, three of the festival's events are going forward as scheduled.

A Saturday afternoon event at the Factory Point Town Green, a Saturday night wine dinner at The Reluctant Panther (which is sold out) and a weekend-long pinot noir tasting event at the Fire Tower Restaurant and Tavern at Stratton Mountain Resort are still taking place.

But the larger festival, which was to present food and wine pairings as well as recreational events in Manchester and Stratton, is off.

A spokeswoman for event organizers Townsquare Media declined to comment beyond a prepared statement citing "unforeseen circumstances" for the cancellation. The Connecticut-based media and event company, which runs food and wine festivals elsewhere, had expected about 1,000 food and wine enthusiasts would attend.

Restaurants and hotels in the area found out on Wednesday by phone, and would-be guests learned from a message on the event's website.

"We found out last night that were unable to hold the event as many other venues did," Kimpton Taconic Hotel general manager John Burnham said Thursday by email "We were disappointed, as I am sure many local businesses were along with tourists traveling to the area." The Taconic's Copper Grouse restaurant had planned a four-course meal for the event.

The message on the event website said: "We are extremely disappointed to announce that due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, the Manchester Food & Wine Classic has been canceled. We understand and share your disappointment and thank you in advance for your understanding."

"We will be offering full refunds for all ticket purchases," the message read. "The refund should appear in your account within 5-7 business days. If you have any questions please reach out to info@manchesterfoodandwineclassic.com."

Asked to describe the "unforeseen circumstances," Townsquare spokeswoman McKay Murphy referred to the prepared statement on the website. When asked to characterize ticket sales, Murphy declined comment.

The Equinox Resort in Manchester was to have hosted the event kickoff on Friday on its Lincoln lawn, with a vendor provided by Townsquare handling the wine and the hotel providing hors d'oeuvres, marketing manager Alexandra Zullo said Thursday.

"It's sad to see it happen." she said of the cancellation. She did not know how many tickets had been sold for the event at the Equinox, as Townsquare handled those sales. She also said it was hard to know if the cancellation had affected room sales, as rooms for the event were being offered individually rather than as a block.

At The Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern, the news meant "Sparkles Around the World," featuring global dishes complemented with an international selection of sparkling wines, won't be happening on Sunday.

"Honestly I hadn't sold a lot of tickets," owner and chef Amy Chamberlain said Thursday. "I was just excited to be part of the event. But I am disappointed that it's canceled, of course. I'm sure it wasn't easy for [Townsquare] to cancel and my heart goes out to them. It is very unfortunate that it's not happening."

That said, Chamberlain pointed out that the free "Song, Style, and Sip" concert on Manchester's Factory Point Green Town Green from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. is still taking place. It will feature a performance by the Silver Arrow Band, fresh salads, sparkling rose, and shopping from event sponsor Manchester Designer Outlets.

"We're going to carry on and be positive and grateful we're on this planet," Chamberlain said.

The Reluctant Panther's "Dinner Decanted" event will also take place as planned on Saturday night. All 40 seats are sold out, general manager Sean Burpee said.

"We're going to have a lot of fun," Burpee said Thursday. "We're pretty well-known for our wine dinners. There's no way we'd cancel."

Hoteliers and restaurant managers said the concept of an event featuring the region's cuisine is a good idea that should be explored again in the future.

"I absolutely believe that an event like this or any event, whether planned locally or remotely, can and would be a success," Burnham said by email.

"Manchester was excited about this," Burpee added. "I hope we can organize something again in the future."

Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at 802-490-6000.




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