Texas Reds Festival: 11 Years of Wine, Beer, and Steak

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By Hannah Gerken

Photos courtesy of Downtown Bryan Association

With a decade of wine, steak, and music under its belt, Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival prepares for its 11th annual festival with more sweet and savory flavors, and events for the entire family to enjoy.

The Texas Reds Festival has become one of Downtown Bryan’s largest events.

This year, Texas Reds will host more than 25 of Texas’ most popular wineries, along with craft beer breweries.

To create a hands-on, learning environment, there will be mini education seminars at the Palace Theater. Representatives from Blackwater Draw Brewing Co. along with a sommelier will be present to discuss craft beer and wine. All wineries under the wine tasting tent will have representatives from their winery to answer questions and provide intimate knowledge to visitors.

“There is a lot of science, a lot of art, and a lot of love that go into the Texas wine and beer that are being made,” says Amanda Reynolds, director of the Texas Reds Festival. “You get to talk to the people that are actually making the product that’s at the festival.”

Texas Reds is not only for those who enjoy wine, craft beer, and steak, but it is also a family friendly event with activities for everyone. Kids Zone provides a safe place for children to hang out with an unlimited all-weekend ticket that grants access to five bounce houses, Papaw’s Party Train, and crafts put on by Purple Turtle Art Studio.

“It’s a very family friendly festival and atmosphere,” says Sandy Farris, executive director of the Downtown Bryan Association. “We always say that First Friday is like a giant block party … and Texas Reds is very similar. There’s lots of people in the streets… Unlike festivals held at fairgrounds or some venue outside of the city, our festival is right in the middle of a historic downtown, which gives it that additional layer of fun. The backdrop of all those historical buildings can’t be duplicated.”

Vendors and Downtown Bryan stores will have booths offering an assortment of goods including handmade soap, yard art, olive oil, clothing, food, and more. An Artist’s Showcase gives visitors the opportunity to view and purchase art in a variety of mixed media.

With the goal of emphasizing the amazing food options at the festival, new events have been added in the last two years to compliment the Saturday Night Steak Dinner. The Steak Dinner is always a crowd-pleaser with, what Reynolds likes to call, “steaks as big as Texas.”

The Saturday Steak Cook-off gives teams from across the state the opportunity to showcase their steaks and beef appetizers with the chance to win cash prizes. With the purchase of a sampling wristband, visitors can enjoy tasting and joining in the fun.

After selling out in its first year, the Steak and Egg Brunch will be back this year on Sunday to feature a mouthwatering combination of breakfast favorites alongside steak and mimosas.

“We are changing up the menu a little this year, but it will still be steak and eggs and Texas wine,” said Reynolds.

Texas Reds also has a powerful line-up of musical performances to provide entertainment all weekend. There will be a mix of major and local bands between the two stages. So far, the Festival has confirmed Jack Ingram, Rick Trevino, and Texas Unlimited Band. The Texas Unlimited Band will perform a mix of country and covers to create a perfect atmosphere for street dancing.

On Sunday, multiple Grammy nominee Deanna Carter will headline to close out the festival. With strawberry wine available for tasting on Sunday, festival visitors can sip wine and enjoy one of her well-known hits, “Strawberry Wine.”

For newcomers to Texas Reds, Reynolds offers some advice on how to maximize the festival experience.

“My personal advice when I go to a festival is to try and do everything because I always worry I’m going to miss out on something,” Reynolds says. “So walk through the cook-off and sample the steaks, go under the wine tent and take the time to talk to the representatives … talk to the wineries and the breweries that are there, ask them questions. Definitely partake in the eating.”

There are many ways to get involved with Texas Reds as an individual or an organization. It takes 500 to 750 volunteers to run the festival with helpers needed to assist breweries and wineries, work in the Kids Zone, and help with general festival needs. If nonprofit organizations and community groups sign-up to help, they have the opportunity to receive money back based on the number of hours volunteered.

“For every 50 hours they volunteer, we will pay the organization $500,” Farris says. “In the last couple of years, we have given on average $20,000 that we’ve returned to community organizations.”

In addition to giving back to groups who volunteer, Texas Reds also gives back to the community through a scholarship program set up with Bryan ISD. In the past three years, Texas Reds has given out nine scholarships to local students.

“We would love to keep seeing the scholarship program expand,” says Reynolds. “The festival focuses on beef and grapes so we give scholarships to people who are studying Ag or are giving back to their community.”

To purchase tickets for the festival or sign-up to volunteer, visit www.texasredsfestival.com. For the food events, there are a limited number of tickets. Tickets can also be purchased at the festival.