Music City Booze + Food Festival (2018)

Nashville day 2 was reserved for the Music City Food + Wine Festival held in Bicentennial Capitol Mill State Park (not to be confused with Bicentennial Park located on the shore of the Cumberland River).

Having attended only one other wine and food festival in my life (Taste Washington), I expected the offering at the Nashville festival to mirror its sister festival in Seattle and consist of 80 percent wine, 18 percent food, and two percent beer. This was not the case. As it turns out, moonshine is more popular in Nashville’s neck-of-the-woods than wine.

The “doors” opened at 11am and, not wanting to look too eager, we arrived at 11:01am. Even though it was still technically morning, we could tell that it was going to be a scorcher of a day and as long as there was no rain, we would be happy.

After passing through security, we were each handed a plastic stemless wine glass and directed down a small tree-covered path to the park. The park was rectangular shaped with long, double-sided tents were setup in the middle of the park and a few tents scattered on the park perimeter.

First impressions were good. The sun was out and I was enjoying the generous pour of sparkling wine in my glass. As I looked around the park, it was immediately apparent that this wine and food festival was much smaller than Taste Washington; perhaps less than 50 percent of the size. It was also apparent that this was not so much a wine and food festival as it was a spirits and food festival.

Protip: Get your hot chicken early in the day because it sells out fast.

Our first major stop was to the tent where they were screen printing canvas bags. We spent a very long time standing in line for our canvas bags (upwards of 45 minutes) and other than using the bags at the festival, we have not used them in real life.

Protip: Skip the screen printing tent and focus on drinking.

Our second major stop was to the tent where they were etching bamboo cutting boards with personalized text.

Protip: Skip the cutting board tent and focus on drinking.

The remainder of our four hours at the festival was spent drinking and seeking out shaded areas where we could sit (or stand!). By 1pm, temperatures were in the mid-90’s and the humidity had skyrocketed. The amount of sweat dripping off my body was laughable and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I lingered in the portable toilets for longer than necessary because they were air-conditioned.

Peter and I walked laps around the park drinking daiquiris, bloody marys, various vodka drinks, and, of course, moonshine. Note that wine is not included in my list and that is because there was very little wine at the festival. I remember drinking two glasses of wine, including the glass of sparkling wine immediately after our arrival. The festival should be titled “Music City Booze + Food”.

I most enjoyed the moonshine made by Sugarlands Distilling Company and attribute my intoxication to this vendor. Aside from moonshine, I do not know what was in their blackberry sunset cocktails but damn they were tasty and refreshing. They also served their cocktails in compostable cups which I appreciated.

Before we knew it, it was 4pm and we were being kindly shuffled out of the park. The most chaotic part of the festival was booking and finding our rideshare after the festival at the park entrance. Imagine a blob of 100-200 intoxicated people stumbling around trying to match license plate numbers to their ride-sharing app.

Protip: To simplify your experience, walk a few blocks away from the park entrance to book your ride share.

Would we attend this festival again?

  • Yes if we lived in the Nashville metro area.
  • No if we lived anywhere other than the Nashville metro area.

This festival ($165/ticket) is not worth flying two-thirds across the country to attend and we knew that going into it but thought it was a good excuse to finally visit Nashville (which it was).

Day 2 concluded with a trip across the river to dine at Five Points Pizza followed by an early bedtime.

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