Every spring for the past six years, Food and Wine on Pine has been one of the most popular events on Anna Maria Island, drawing thousands of people to Pine Avenue to sample the community’s food, art, wine and music.
So the announcement came as a surprise. The 2016 Food and Wine on Pine, the announcement said, would be the last. The event has been canceled, apparently for good.
The festival, held in May each year, was one of the most popular annual events on the island and raised money for area nonprofits. Organizers considered it a success every year except for a rainout in 2014.
The reason for the discontinuation came down to the tremendous amount of work involved. Even with the help of 350 volunteers, the festival was a strain on officials who have full-time jobs and families.
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Caryn Hodge, the marketing manager for the Chiles Group, which organized Food and Wine on Pine, said discussions about ending the event began a year ago.
“We had decided that 2016 was going to be our last year,” she said. “So we went into last year thinking it was going to be our last year.”
But the 2016 event was the most successful ever, so organizers began to think about continuing.
“We had the best one ever so we were on Cloud Nine,” Hodge said. “We thought, ‘Well, maybe we can keep this going.’ But then we came back down to earth, came back to reality.”
There was some talk of handing the festival over to another group, but even arranging the transition would have been a huge amount of work, Hodge said, so organizers decided to end the event after its highly successful 2016 edition in May so they could finish on a high note.