By News-Register staff • 

Sip! welcomes thousands to town this weekend

News-Register file photoThe McMinnville Wine & Food Classic turns 21 this year.
News-Register file photo
The McMinnville Wine & Food Classic turns 21 this year.

The festival, a benefit for St. James School, is its main fundraiser. “It’s imperative we do this,” said Chris Browne, one of the organizers, who has been part of the event since its inception.

The first year, Sip!, then simply called McMinnville Wine & Food Classic, featured 22 vendors at the McMinnville Armory. It raised about $5,000.

Now there are 172 vendors, including many that are new this year, and it attracts about 6,000 visitors a year. A related wine competition features dozens of entries — 180 this year, the most ever by about one-third.

This year’s Sip! will open at 3 p.m. Friday, running until 9 o’clock. It will be open again from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Music, demonstrations and other entertainment are scheduled throughout the event. Food booths will be offering everything from asparagus to seafood and barbecue. Wineries will be pouring their products and selling bottles and cases. Numerous other vendors will offer jewelry, garden art, paintings, photos, gourmet treats, trips and other items — all selected in a juried process.

New this year will be vendors offering and demonstrating the use of spirits, such as whiskey and gin. Ransom Spirits LLC of Sheridan will present a mixology class at 4:30 p.m. Friday and again at 5 p.m. Saturday, with samples of new cocktails. The “Battle of the Third Street Spirits,” a friendly mixing competition, will be held at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.

Other demonstrations will feature a chef from Chinook Winds at 1 p.m. Saturday; Chef Eric Ferguson of Nick’s Italian Caféat 3:30 p.m. Saturday; Chef Jesse Valley of Gem Creole Saloon at 1 p.m. Sunday; and Chef Ricardo Antunez of Pura Vida at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The popular band Majestyx will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. It will return Saturday for another set, also from 6 to 9 p.m.

Admission is $17 general; $15 for seniors; $15 for designated drivers, who also receive free non-alcoholic beverages; and no charge to children 9 and younger with their parents. The first 1,000 attendees will receive free wine glasses.

Parking at the museum complex costs $7 per car. A free shuttle is available from local lodging sites. The Trolley will drive back and forth from McMenamins downtown to the space museum every 30 minutes; it’s also free.

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