Laura Bakker and her husband pause for a moment beneath the setting sun on the final evening of the second annual Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival. They are plotting their next move as folk music and the distinct smell of barbecue floats through the air. Sweet Potatoes or 6th and Vine? Black Mountain Chocolate or Dewey’s?
“We’ve been to a few different tents so far,” Bakker said. “But The Porch has been the best so far.”
The three-day festival brought local chefs and musicians to the arts district in downtown Winston-Salem from Friday, Sept. 18 to Sunday, Sept. 20. Each day, restaurants set up tents along Trade Street where they offered small selections of their best dishes, and musicians performed on a stage on 6th Street. Hundreds of people came to enjoy the food and the music, according to the event’s Facebook page.
“I think it’s really cool that Winston is beginning to embrace its own personality as a growing city in North Carolina,” said Daniel Oglesby, a Wake Forest University senior. “Bigger cities, like Asheville and Charlotte, have their own personalities, and Winston is beginning to find its own in a young population outside of the tobacco industry of its past.”
The festival was presented by the Winston-Salem Journal, Wells Fargo, and a grant from the Millennium Fund, according to a Texas Pete press release. Seventeen restaurants participated in the festival this year, including popular favorites such as Black Mountain Chocolate, Mozelle’s and Mary’s Gourmet Diner.
Each year, a panel of judges awards one restaurant with top honors for the best dish. This year, The Porch, Kitchen & Cantina won the award for its fresh take on Tex-Mex cuisine. The Porch has been a popular restaurant in Winston-Salem since it opened in January 2014 on Mill Works Street.
In addition to popular local restaurants, the festival also included locally and nationally known bands, such as American Aquarium, Mediocre Bad Guys and Clay Howard and the Silver Alerts.
This second iteration of the festival comes just a few months after the maker of Texas Pete, TW Garner Food Company, announced that it will be moving its headquarters to downtown Winston-Salem in early 2016.
“I’m continually impressed with the level of culinary talent in Winston-Salem and am thrilled that Texas Pete can play a part in spreading the word about all we have to offer,” said Glenn Garner, vice president of marketing for TW Garner Food Company, in a press release. “It’s very exciting to see the festival come together and be supported by so many truly amazing restaurants.”
Linda Lewis, who has lived in Winston-Salem for 40 years, said that she has seen the city change a lot over the decades – but not quite as much as her husband, who has lived here for his entire life.
“We happened to see the festival as we were driving past on Friday night, so we came back tonight to see what it’s all about,” said Lewis.