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A stomping good time: Carlos Creek Winery to host annual festival this weekend

Owners of Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria are excited about this year's Minnesota Food and Wine Festival, which features the annual fun, and sometimes messy, Grape Stomp.

The event is set for this weekend, Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13 at the winery, located along County Road 34, north of Alexandria.

There are 139 vendors at this year's event and festival-goers can listen to seven different musical groups on three different stages.

The hours for this year's festival are different than in years past, noted Tami Bredeson, who owns Carlos Creek Winery with her husband, Kim.

Friday night's Barn Dance, which features the Lamont Cranston Band, will run from 8 p.m. to midnight. There is a $10 cover charge for this event. The festival grounds will open at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, the festival will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday, it will run from noon to 6 p.m.

Bredeson added that the winery is abandoning the $2 parking fee, but will be charging a $1 admission fee for those who are 12 years of age and older.

"This is in hopes of avoiding the bottleneck that developed while trying to collect the parking fee," she said, adding that the fees collected will be going toward parking lot improvements.

Bredeson also noted some other changes that have taken place that she thinks will "greatly enhance the experience for attendees, as well as vendors." The changes include:

•An improved entry road and parking area.

•Grape stomping will be done outside in a 100-foot by 40-foot tent - the "Big Top." The bigger bands will then be moved into the barn so music won't have to be canceled if it rains.

•There will be several live artists, who will be demonstrating their craft. One, noted Bredeson, will demonstrate hand-thrown pottery, another will demonstrate weaving on a loom and there will be a chainsaw carving artist, as well.

Several new wine-related experiences have been added as well, including a wine-blending seminar and information on home wine making will be offered.

The Minnesota Food and Wine Festival will feature several contests this year, as well, noted Bredeson.

There will be a "grand championship" round at the end of Saturday and again on Sunday, where all the winning grape stomping teams will advance and compete for the honors of Grand Champion Stomp Team and a $50 prize. There will also be a prize for best-dressed grape stomping team.

There will be an "Owners Choice Award" for favorite food and favorite non-food vendor items. Entries will be judged on Friday night so that the winners will be displayed on Saturday and Sunday.

Attendees will be able to vote for their favorite food and non-food vendor item, along with favorite band and best looking booth. These winners will receive plaques they can display in their booth.

And because the owners of the winery have announced that the "grape stomp is going green," there will be a "Going Green Award."

The owners of the winery, along with attendees of the event, will also have the opportunity to vote for the food vendor that best uses "go green" practices, such as corn-based paper products, condiment stations instead of individual packets, etc. The winner will receive $100.

The winery plans to use corn-based wine glasses, as well as having manned recycling containers.

"We are hoping to greatly reduce the amount of trash we create at the festival by getting as many attendees as possible to use our recycling containers," said Bredeson.

Shuttle buses

A shuttle bus will pick up hotel guests, who will all receive complimentary passes, from their hotels and bring them out to the winery. Those who are not staying at a hotel, but interested in a ride, can pick up the shuttle at the Viking Plaza Mall on the hour starting at 9 a.m. The cost roundtrip is $5. Buses will run all day.

For more information, either call Carlos Creek Winery at (320) 846-5443 or visit its website at


Friday, September 11

•6 p.m. - Festival grounds open.

•8 p.m. to midnight - Barn dance featuring the Lamont Cranston Band. Cover charge is $10.

Saturday, September 12

•9 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Shuttle buses will run from hotels and the Viking Plaza Mall. Live music on the wine patio will feature Steve Souvada, Bruce Nelson and Gregory Michael Bruce.

•10 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Live music on the Arena Stage will feature Funky Gumbo, The KGB Band and Skilly and Duff.

•11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Grape stomping under the "Big Top."

•Noon to 6 p.m. - Wine tasting in the stables. Cost is $10.

•1 and 3 p.m. - Wine blending class in the stables. Cost is $20.

•1 to 6 p.m. - Live music on the Frontenac Stage featuring Finestra and also, Brian Solum on bagpipes.

•4 p.m. - "I Love Lucy" grape stomping reenactment on the Frontenac Stage.

•7 p.m. - Grape stomping grand championship under the "Big Top."

Sunday, September 13

•11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Shuttle buses run from hotels and Viking Plaza Mall.

•Noon to 6 p.m. - Live music on the Wine Patio Stage featuring Steve Souvada, Bruce Nelson and Gregory Michael Bruce. Live music on the Arena Stage featuring Funky Gumbo and Skilly and Duff.

•1 to 5 p.m. - Wine tasting in the stables. Cost is $10.

•1 to 4 p.m. - Grape stomping under the "Big Top."

•1, 2, 3 and 5 p.m. - Brian Solum on the bagpipes on the Frontenac Stage.

•3 p.m. - Wine blending class in the stables. Cost is $20.

•4 p.m. - "I Love Lucy" grape stomping reenactment on Frontenac Stage.

•5 p.m. - Grape stomping grand championship round under the "Big Top."

Note: The schedule is tentative and subject to change.