Egg Harbor Approves New Wine Festival

The Egg Harbor Business Association (EHBA) recently found itself with a major problem that any community in the world might envy – advance ticket sales for a brand-new festival outgrew the space the festival was assigned in the village.

EHBA President Jeff Larson explained the problem of the new Door County Wine Festival to the Egg Harbor Village Board at its April 11 meeting.

“It’s become quite evident that it’s quite popular,” Larson said, explaining that with very little advertising for the June 25 event, 1,277 tickets have already been sold to people in 19 states as well as to someone in Mexico.

The original plan was to hold the event in Harbor View Park, where the EHBA holds the September AleFest. However, the estimated capacity of the park is 1,200, “and we’re over that now,” Larson said.

The situation was complicated when the EHBA was awarded a $20,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to promote the wine fest.

“If you win one of these grants I don’t think it is wise to turn it away. A decline would probably reduce your chance of ever getting a JEM Grant again,” Larson wrote in an April 5 letter to Village Administrator Ryan Heise.

In that letter Larson added that the economic impact of the event will be substantial. At the 1,200-attendee level, the economic impact was estimated at $250,000.

“Now we are looking at multiples of that,” Larson wrote. “I know that all local lodging establishments…will be at 100 percent occupancy for that weekend.”

In his letter, Larson proposed two solutions:  Expand the wine fest area to include the marina parking lot below Harbor View Park, with EHBA compensating the marina for loss of business on that day; or close down a section of Hwy. 42 as is done with Pumpkin Patch in October.

Village Trustee Bob Dickson, who chairs the Harbor Committee, said that committee would not support the use of the marina parking lot for the festival.

“That is the sweet season for boating and people pay a lot of money for that,” Dickson said. “We have to keep access to the marina open.”

Village President Joe Smith suggested another option – end ticket sales now and limit the size of the event. “That might be a wise thing to do,” he said.

But the board voted unanimously to close Hwy. 42 for the festival, from Market Street to Orchard Road. Now the EHBA has to get approval from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the highway closure.

The board also granted an easement to Harbor View Grill owners Christy and Patrick Robers to add a fire escape stairway to the rooftop terrace they are adding. The easement allows the fire escape stairway to touch down on village property at Harbor View Park.

“There are trees there. You’re not even going to see it,” explained Christy Robers.

The board designated Administrator Heise to make sure the design of the stairway is “aesthetically pleasing.”

Village President Smith voiced opposition to the plan on the basis that it is an unlawful use of easement. The board voted 3-2 in favor of the project.

“This has been a couple years in the making,” Christy said after the meeting, saying the rooftop terrace includes a bar and seating for 50.

“It’s gorgeous up there,” she said. “We’re going to be opening Memorial Day weekend. We’re hoping that week before to have a sneak peak with a little open house party.”

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