Uptown Columbus bringing Food Truck, Beer & Wine festivals and other major events

Spotted at the Food Truck Festival March 24, 2018.
Spotted at the Food Truck Festival March 24, 2018. Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden

The weather may be cooling down, but the event season is heating up in Uptown Columbus.

Last Friday, Uptown Columbus wrapped the seven weeklong Friday Night Fall Concert Series presented by Active Pest Control, which provided free, live entertainment in the heart of Uptown. With a weekly average of 3,000 attendees, the Uptown Concert Series aims to attract patrons that will result in an economic impact on the merchants that make up the fabric of our downtown.

However, they aren’t done yet. Uptown Columbus will plan and execute four major events before the end of the year, to include the Fall Food Truck Festival, Uptown Beer & Wine Festival, Small Business Saturday and Broadway Holiday Parade and the Tree Lighting.

Woodruff Pak and Dillingham Street Bridge will turn into a food truck mecca on Saturday, hosting over 25 gourmet food trucks from around the region. Cuisine will range from authentic Maine lobster rolls and Asian fusion to southern favorites like chicken and waffles and tater tots.

New to this year’s lineup and a local food truck that can be found every week at Phenix City’s Food Truck Park, is Tuesday’s Tacos, which serves street tacos and burritos. Entry into the festival is $5 with additional food for purchase; children 11 and younger are free. The event serves as a fundraiser for Uptown Columbus to cover the cost of the event (security, entertainment, tables, chairs, etc.), as well support and grow their yearround programming. The event is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with entrances on both sides of the Dillingham Street Bridge and in Woodruff Park.

Next up, Uptown Columbus will host the 9th annual Uptown Beer & Wine Festival, featuring more than 100 craft beers and wines on Nov. 17 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Tap, Rankin Courtyard and Livery. Entry into the festival is $45 and will allow participants unlimited samples of craft beer and wine while they enjoy the music of DJ CashFlow.

For the wine connoisseurs, The Wine Garden presented by Uptown Wine & Spirits will feature more than 25 selections of whites, reds and blend varieties. New this year, the Sip and Soar Package will be available to first 100 participants for $75 and includes a 10 a.m. Blue Heron Adventure Zipline, lunch from a downtown eatery and entry into the festival.

All funds raised from these events will go directly back into bringing Columbus more free, family-friendly events like RiverFest, the Friday Night Concert Series, Paddle South, Spooktacular and Broadway Holiday.

Maybe the most important and impactful event of the season comes on Nov. 24 Small Business Saturday (SBS). SBS is an annual holiday shopping tradition that gets communities across the nation out to support their favorite local, independently-owned businesses. Uptown Columbus, in partnership with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, serves as the Neighborhood Champion by promoting the SBS movement to the greater community through a marketing campaign and hosting activities on SBS. Uptown will decorate the downtown full of SBS swag in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of supporting small businesses, not only on SBS Saturday, but also throughout the year.

Uptown Columbus will close the 2018 event season with Broadway Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting on Dec. 7. The community is welcome to gather on the 1000 and 1100 blocks of Uptown to celebrate the holiday season. Activities include a parade down Broadway, the lighting of the Uptown Tree Trail, ice skaters, Muscogee County School student choirs, tuba players and of course, Santa.

This is free and family-friendly event takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in partnership with CSU Servant Leadership Program, Muscogee County Schools and the Business Improvement District.

Uptown Columbus Inc., a nonprofit organization that facilitates and coordinates the economic revitalization initiatives in downtown, owns and operates 26 events a year, of those there are only five events that they charge admission fees for. The admissions fee for the Spring & Fall Food Truck Festival, as well as the Beer & Wine Festival, make up nearly half of Uptown’s operating revenue.

“We try to provide as many events to our community at no cost,” said Becca Zajac, vice president of Marketing and Community Relation at Uptown Columbus. “However, we also ask for those that enjoy the amenities we provide throughout the year — a clean and safe downtown, free events, the splashpad, playground, etc. – help support these three events that bring in a significant portion of our annual budget.”