SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Say cheese. Kicking off a two-day festival Columbus Day Weekend in Southwest Harbor, Maine, is a one-of-a-kind cheese and wine-tasting event with a breathtaking backdrop of Acadia National Park and historic Bar Harbor. The event, held at Smugglers Den Campground, is the prelude to the popular 18th annual Oktoberfest brewers festival, which draws thousands of beer and food connoisseurs from around the region.
Sponsored by the Southwest Harbor & Tremont Chamber of Commerce, this year's wine and cheese tasting featuring locally produced cheeses, artisan breads and wines representing many different countries (including the United States), will be held Friday, Oct. 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. Tickets to the opening day event are $27 per couple or $15 per person and include a souvenir wine glass. For those only wanting to sample the cheeses, a $5 ticket is available.
According to Cynthia Crow, administrator for the chamber, the wine event kicks off Oktoberfest, held the following day, Saturday, at the same location from noon to 6 p.m. Besides music, fine food and dozens of craft booths to browse, the prime focus of the festival is unprecedented access to more than 24 brewers, each with a couple of selections on tap for guests to sample.
"In the past it was only brewers from Maine that attended the event, but this year we have expanded and we have three breweries from New York attending," Crow said. "There will be sampling to satisfy all tastes and preferences, and we are expecting about 3,000 guests to raise their tasting glasses this year."
An admission ticket for the full event, which consists of the brewer's tent, the food and music tent and a Maine artisan craft tent, is $30. Those who just want access to the food, music and craft vendors' tents may buy a reduced admission ticket for $10. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free, but are not allowed in the brew-tasting venue.
What does your paid admission provide? A sampling glass and 10 drink tickets allow guests to choose from the finest of microbrewers from Portland to Orono and the Kennebec River Valley to Bar Harbor, Maine. Some of the brewers include Sebago Brewing Company, Geary's, Gritty's, Sheepscot Valley Beer Company, Samuel Adams, The Traveler Beer Company, Oak Pond Brewing, Fatty Bumpkins Main Draft Cider, Blacksmiths and Brooklyn Brewery.
The event is held rain or shine under the big tents, and tickets may be purchased at the gate or at the chamber office. For more information, visit the festival online at www.acadiaoktoberfest.com or call 1-207-244-9264.