Inaugural Southern Food Festival brings beer and bluegrass to New Town

Staff writer

The threat of rain did nothing to put a damper on the spirits of attendees at Williamsburg’s inaugural Southern Food Festival this past Saturday. Hundreds of people turned out with chairs and picnic blankets for the afternoon event in New Town’s Sullivan Square.

Chris Ray, former professional baseball player and co-founder of Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland, which organized the event, says the choice to host an event such as this in Williamsburg was an easy one for him.

“I went to college at William and Mary, where I pitched for the baseball team, so Williamsburg has always had a place in my heart,” Ray said. “Our beer sells really well out here, and after doing a similar festival in Ashland last year, we decided that we would expand those events elsewhere. Williamsburg was a natural first stop.”

For their part, Center of the Universe Brewing debuted a new peaches-and-cream flavored beer called Bless Your Heart for the event, while several local restaurants served up their takes on classic Southern fare, including Bonefish Grill, Paul’s Deli & Neighborhood Restaurant and The Corner Pocket.

Jessica Yager of the Corner Pocket, which was serving bowls of the bar’s jambalaya, said she was impressed with the event.

“We were the first restaurant built in New Town, so we always like to try and support events here,” Yagar said. “We’ve been pretty happy with the turnout for the Southern Food Festival so far, and if they come back we’ll be happy to support it again.”

If Center of the Universe Brewing has their way, they will certainly be back — perhaps even sooner than next year.

“We pre-sold over 500 tickets to the event, ended up having a lot of others pass through, which is great for a first-year event,” Ray said. “We absolutely plan to come back next year. It’s not even out of the question that maybe we could come back in the fall for something like Oktoberfest. It’s a great venue, and I’m always happy to come back to Williamsburg.”

Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.

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