The association, which includes 250 independent retailers from the Carytown district, hopes to showcase the diversity of dining and retailing options in Carytown for new Richmond residents and suburban dwellers who rarely shop outside of the counties. “The influx of new residents from other states has brought diverse tastes and a demanding palate to Richmond,” explains Julia Battaglini, one of the lead coordinators of the event and founder of River City Cellars. “We want people to see the charms of Carytown,” adds Aline Reitzer, who shares organizer duties with Battaglini and who co-owns Acacia Restaurant with her husband, the nationally acclaimed chef Dale Reitzer. “We want people from other localities like the West End and Hanover to shop in the area,” she says.
The festival may sound overwhelming to those who consider themselves less sophisticated, but Battaglini and Reitzer say that anyone should feel welcome at the event. The cost of each demonstration, seminar or tasting is $10 — a bargain, they say, compared to the average price of $40 to $100. Vendors will sell items such as affordable gifts for children and more expensive items for women. Festival-goers can try cuisine from French to “Bangkok Soul.” Though the event should be seen as approachable, Reitzer warns of another misconception. “This is a classy event, not a drink fest.” There are even two VIP events planned before the festival.
It has taken Battagilini and Reitzer three months to plan the event, all while running their respective businesses full time. Although vendors are still being accepted for this year, plans are already under way for next year’s festival. Representatives from Food & Wine and Southern Living magazines are already confirmed. Alton Brown, host of “Good Eats” on the Food Network also is scheduled for next year. — Alicia Aroche
The Carytown Food & Wine Festival will be held Sunday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 354-6060 or 355-1375 for more information. Richmond’s Restaurant Week will be held Oct. 27 to Nov. 2. A portion of the meal price at participating restaurants will be donated to the Central Virginia Food Bank. Call 354-6060 for information.
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