Music City Food and Wine is an annual festival put on by some of the biggest names in food and music including Nashville’s own Kings of Leon, and famed chef Johnathan Waxman. Normally a two to three day event marking the end of summer, the festival takes place in late September near downtown Nashville, TN in Bicentennial Park. There are a couple of options for tickets including passes for the entire weekend as well as single day passes.
The star of this “show” is truly the food and drink samples available throughout the whole weekend. There is a vast range of cuisine, including local and regional chefs and restaurants, as well as a variety of wines, cocktails, and beer. There are culinary demonstrations, panel discussions, tasting tents with more delicious samples than you can possibly consume in a day, an evening dinner, and celebrity chefs wandering about taking in the best that Music City has to offer.
Festival Highlights, 2017
Hattie B’s Nashville Hot Chicken never disappoints. I think they have been at the festival every year since its inception, and I can’t think of a better dish to represent Nashville. Their food is so good I included them on my list of things every first time visitor to Nashville has to experience. Look for their red trailer and corn hole boards, and get ready to experience Nashville’s quintessential dish – Hot Chicken.
Hendrick’s Gin had some delightful cocktails that weren’t too sweet, which made them perfect on a hot day. Maybe it has something to do with the way they make their gin with rose petals and cucumber that helped cut the heat and humidity. I may have had more than one…
As far as wine goes, Cooper and Thief, a Lodi, CA based company had what I thought was the most interesting and memorable wine of the festival. They were pouring a red wine blend aged in bourbon barrels. This was absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves in Nashville. I’m a huge fan of oaky vanilla flavors in wine, and this product checked both of those boxes.
A new comer to Nashville, Holler and Dash, was serving this fun little dessert with peanut butter mouse, sugar bacon, and popcorn. Do I need to say more? You can try the full sized version at their newly opened restaurant in Nashville.
The evening Harvest Night dinner moved over to the Music City Walk of Fame Park. This year featured a performance by The Family Stone, and while they put on an energetic show, Harvest Night was still a somewhat relaxing way to cap off a fun weekend celebrating food in Music City. The final event was actually a Sunday brunch, which I did not attend.
Tips to make the most of your festival experience
- Check the weather. The daytime tastings, demos, and panel discussions usually have shade/rain tents set up, but the festival is outdoors. I’ve been when it rains all day, and I’ve been when the weather is sunny and humid. Pack sunscreen and/or rain gear accordingly.
- Look at the schedule in advance. The cooking demos and panel discussions are at set times. Make time for the ones that matter to you.
- Drink plenty of water. There is both still and sparkling bottled water readily available at the festival.
- Have a great time, but pace yourself. There is so much wonderful food and drink to try that you have to take it slow. Drink samples tend to out number food samples, so make sure you have enough to eat!
- Do a little research to see which vendors you want to hit first, some things are limited in quantity and run out.
- If you are coming from out of town, the event is situated perfectly to see another integral part of Nashville’s food scene, the Nashville Farmer’s Market.
- Take advantage of ride sharing services to get home safely. Music City Food and Wine has been known to partner with Lyft to give discounts to festival attendees.