Since 1895, Saint Martin’s University has been a beacon on the hill when they took in their first—and only, at the time—student. In the spirit of their namesake, Saint Martin of Tours, their generosity to our community extends far beyond scholarship. Annually SMU hosts community-wide events, activities and festivals galore.

One of these events is the annual Capital Food and Wine Festival which blends outreach, scholarship support, alumni, volunteers, vendors and music with the region’s most-skilled brewmasters, chefs and vintners. What results is a day eagerly anticipated year-round.

Capital Food and wine festival
For nearly three decades, the Capital Food and Wine Festival has celebrated community, funded Saint Martin’s scholarships, and showcased local food, wine, and music. Photo credit: Stacey Gracen

This year marks the 29th year of the festival which started in 1989. Al Eckroth, a local realtor with Virgil Adams Real Estate, directed the festival in the first two years. He remembers that it began “as a way of bringing the greater community together at Saint Martin’s University to showcase and celebrate Washington wines and great Olympia-area restaurants, while generating scholarship funds for  worthy SMU students. I envisioned the Capital Food and Wine Festival as an opportunity to have a huge annual block party where neighbors and friends could unite in a spirit of community.”

Not only is it a fantastic party, but the funds raised through this event are critical to the mission of serving all students at Saint Martin’s. “The money raised for scholarships is vitally important,” shares Festival Director Terry Simmonds. “It is made possible by the vendors, sponsors and hundreds of volunteers who generously donate their time, resources, energy and dedication for this event. We especially would like to thank the thousands of patrons who attend and support the Festival.”

Capital Food and Wine
View the main floor of the Pavilion from the mezannine where the craft beer and cider will be flowing. Photo credit: White Wolf Films

Held from noon until 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 in the Marcus Pavilion on the Saint Martin’s Lacey campus, tickets are available online now with proceeds benefitting SMU student scholarships.

“As a recent alumni, I have seen the impact that the Festival has on education. These students are the future and these scholarships help them to reach their full potential,” shares Kenzie Olson, past Festival event coordinator and 2013 SMU alumni.

Leah Fisher, this year’s event coordinator and 2014 SMU alumni agrees. “As a Saint Martin’s student I struggled financially. In fact, I almost wasn’t able to return for the final year of my degree. The generosity of the Alumni Association and their scholarships is truly the only reason I can call myself a Saint Martin’s alum today.”

The Festival was started by Eckroth alongside the Saint Martin’s Alumni Association. Over the past 29 years, seasoned SMU Alumni have built the iconic event drawing an estimated 120,000 participants since its inception The Festival committee, consisting of approximately a dozen alumni and community members, are hard at work on this year’s event and are looking to the next generation to keep the momentum going.

SMU students, like these seen here at the annual move-in day, will be on hand to volunteer at the Festival.

Dozens of SMU students volunteer at the Festival each year and others have stepped forward to assist in sponsor outreach, patron surveys and class projects focused on informational graphics and traffic flow at the event. Recently graduated alumni have joined the Festival committee and more are still needed. By applying their skills, infusing modernization, new ideas and diversity, they add to the Festival’s success and longevity.

The event itself promises more than 100 select wines to sample from knowledgeable vintners. Visitors will find the main floor of the Pavilion filled with wine booths, continuing into the Worthington Center with the commemorative RJ’s Wine Cellar. Bottled wine can be purchased to take home. Upstairs, you’ll find craft beers and hard ciders from a wide range of breweries to quench your thirst and the mezzanine offers great people-watching over the main floor.

Ethan Tucker
Olympia singer and songwriter Ethan Tucker will entertain at the 2018 Capital Food and Wine Festival. Photo credit: Ben Griewing

Mouth-watering cuisine options from local restaurants and specialty shops will be featured throughout. And, to keep you entertained, three stages of live music will feature a range of styles including Ethan Tucker from The Voice! The O’Blarney’s tent will include big screen TVs for those checking their March Madness brackets.

“Over the years, we have changed to keep up with the public taste by introducing many new and popular wineries to the discerning taste of our patrons. The next generation of alumni have begun to instill new ideas such as adding “cideries” and more microbreweries to the mix,” shares Tom Barte, Festival wine chair.

Innovations include a digital photo booth complete with fun props in the mezzanine and online ticket sales and volunteer sign-ups. And, volunteers at the event get the best deal with free admission and a chance for volunteer prizes for their participation. Sign up online to volunteer.

Tickets to the festival are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and includes $5 worth of scrip towards food and drink. Follow the Festival on Facebook for up-to-date details.

Whether you attend or volunteer, shop or sample, the Capital Food and Wine Festival fosters a true spirit of community, scholarship and support. And, with the 30th anniversary coming next year, organizers are ready to make an even bigger impact going forward.

Capital Food and Wine
This year’s Festival takes place on Saturday, March 24 from noon until 9:00 p.m. at the Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion. Photo credit: White Wolf Films

“I envision the main goal for future Festivals to increase funds raised for student scholarships,” says Eckroth. “I’d love to see broader participation by the business community supporting different types of academic curriculums through festival sponsorships. I’d also like to see themes at the Festival such as food pairings with different types of wines, cooking with wine demonstration, and culinary competitions between the best restaurants in the South Sound.”

Next year marks the Festival’s 30th anniversary and hopes are high that Eckroth’s vision will become a reality. With the help of many generous sponsors and an army of hard-working volunteers who make this event happen, students at Saint Martin’s University will receive even more scholarship dollars, turning their academic dreams into a reality.

Capitol Food and Wine Festival
March 24, 2018, Noon – 9:00 p.m.
Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion


Print Friendly, PDF & Email