Alina Tyulyu/Courtesy Charleston Wine + Food Festival

2020 was a record setting year for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, as 28,000 attendees gathered in the Holy City for an extended weekend filled with tasty bites and beverages. The culinary village was buzzing as usual, but W+F executive director Gillian Zettler was particularly proud of how this year’s programming highlighted everything Charleston has to offer.
“We’ve moved from an event that was primarily produced on the peninsula to a festival with events all over the city,” said Zettler, who pointed out several W+F programs that truly honored Charleston’s heritage.

Cooking with Conviction, for instance, brought some of the South’s most influential women together at Bertha’s Kitchen. The Soul Stroll highlighted three of the area’s most popular black-owned soul food restaurants, and West Africa to the Lowcountry offered attendees the chance to hear chef BJ Dennis speak about the influence of the African diaspora on Charleston’s culture and cuisine. According to Zettler, these events and others at this year’s festival discussed topics that are “intricate to the fabric of the city.”

Although W+F hosts people from all over the world, Zettler said they will continue to focus on what it means to the local community. “I want to see [the festival] be whatever the city needs it to be at that point in time.” —Parker Milner

Runner Up:
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition