The tents have long been removed, and now it’s time to tally the earnings of the 2012 Charleston Wine + Food Festival.

The College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism and Analysis has run the numbers, and they’re getting bigger and better every year. Overall, the festival saw an increase in attendance, total spending, and economic impact.

Total impact is $8.6 million, up from $7.3 in 2011. (Still small potatoes compared to SEWE and Spoleto, which have an estimated $63.8 million and $55 million respectively, but the growth is solid.)

And in tough economic times, it’s heartening to see 21,250 people attending the festival and spending $826 per person in Charleston. The festival also created 103.6 jobs and $2.7 million in labor income.

If you’re a W+F fan and have attended your share of events, you may want to put on your thinking cap and come up with a cool event to pitch. The festival is accepting any and all ideas, and the winning one receives two tickets to that event. Deadline is May 4. Send them to

Here’s a couple I came up with (and I’ll give them to you for free):
• Backroads BBQ tour with Rodney Scott — party bus ride to Hemingway and an all-night pig roast
• Fish fry with Mark Marhefka at Geechie Seafood dock or someplace like Bowens Island
• Bourbon Tour of Charleston with food pairings
• Fried Crab Fest — get the guys from Marvin’s to come down and cook up some crabs at a street party or something .. or maybe combine it with:
• Charleston’s Maritime Heritage — have a seafood-themed party at the maritime center with shrimping boats, fishing boats, crab pots, cast-net makers, oystermen, and the like on hand to discuss their traditions and explain their techniques. Food is Lowcountry Boil, she-crab soup, stone crab claws, fried crabs, roasted oysters, and the like — anything that’s got local ties.