Everyone knows the Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival is a great time for everyone that attends one (or more) of the events we host every year! But we often get asked, “Why do over 200 people volunteer their time and energy for hosting such an event?” And quite honestly, this is an area where we (myself, especially) hope to do a better job of communicating to the public.
Most people have seen the large silent auctions at the Grand and Public Tastings, but do you know what that money goes towards? My guess is that most do not. As our volunteers and board members are passionate about the answer, I think everyone needs to be “in the know.” You see, as much fun as the week turns out to be, it’s not just about having a good time.
All of the proceeds go into college scholarships for deserving students at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry. We have donated $42,000 for scholarships in the last four years alone to students in Hotel Restaurant Management Training programs. And these young students often end up staying right here in the Lowcountry and becoming leaders in these industries.
The other reason we work so hard is for the economic impact. The spending power and excitement generated by the influx of tourists and locals who come out to the festival has a very positive effect on local restaurants, lodging businesses, and retail shops as the island emerges from the winter “slow season.” Working with the Chamber and USCB, the best estimates from last year indicate that the festival helped inject about $4 million dollars into our Lowcountry’s economy.
Hopefully this helps answer your questions. We hope to see you at one or more of this year’s events!