Locals enjoy the second annual Discover Shelby Fest

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Local residents enjoyed a variety of beverages and vendors during the second annual Discover Shelby Fest in Columbiana.

Discover Shelby Fest took place this year on Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Shelby County Arts Council in Old Mill Square Park.

“This year, I felt like it really took off,” said Maggie Behrle, coordinator of tourism and events for Shelby County. “I’m excited to see this grow in the future.”

Discover Shelby Fest featured seven wineries in this year’s second iteration of the event, which has grown measurably in size since its initial outing last year.

“It went great,” said Bruce Andrews, executive director of the Shelby County Arts Council. “We always said it was going to be a scalable festival meaning that we are going to grow it gradually. Everything about it was incrementally bigger than last year. We had perfect weather and we had a good crowd.”

This year’s edition of Discover Shelby Fest featured live music and allowed attendees to see the art council’s gallery along with a kid’s activity tent that was set up for families to enjoy. The day’s music included live jazz and blues musicians, some of which teach classes at the arts council, and the event concluded with ULA Band taking the stage with a two-hour tribute to Jimmy Buffett.

“It was so special to see families enjoying the event together, parents tasting wine—responsibly of course—and children enjoying the face painting and other kids activities,” Behrle said. “It was really well-rounded family event this year.”

Gaining its namesake through Shelby County’s tourism arm, the annual event is held to, not only provide residents with a good time, but also spread awareness of the county’s offerings.

“The arts council was gracious enough to choose to name the festival, Discover Shelby Fest, because the purpose of the festival was to showcase local wineries as well as the great musical acts of  Shelby County,” Behrle said.

Andrews shared what he believes the main goal of the annual festival is.

“A priority is to promote this town, to promote Shelby County,” Andrews said. “It’s a great place to spend a day or, even in the future, spend a night. That’s our main goal.”

This year’s edition of the event was the first time the residents had an opportunity to take full advantage of the city’s Entertainment District during the festival.

“The Entertainment District allows people to go into establishments like the Provincial Pub, Blue Agave or Just a Tish and, if they wanted to, they could (bring) a beverage that they bought outside in a sanctioned cup,” Andrews said.

With the Entertainment District, the festival was able to spread from Old Mill Square to Columbiana Main Street. Several local businesses hosted a cheese crawl to go along with the seven different local wineries that were in attendance.

“We’re fortunate to be in a county and a city that sees the value of arts and culture activities as being an elemental part of quality of life,” Andrews said. “I’m always proud to say that I’m right in the city of Columbiana and in Shelby County because those two entities always step up for these kinds of events. They make this small town extraordinary.”