“If you are a resident of Ridgeland, you already know! We simply have more here!” - Ridgeland Tourism Commission
…and for those who aren’t residents, you’ve probably heard. Ridgeland is a premier destination in the state of Mississippi for shopping, dining and recreational amenities. This year, Ridgeland will hold two festivals in a weekend featuring multiple events that will have something for everyone. Events will take place at Ridgeland’s Renaissance at Colony Park and The Township at Colony Park.
Beginning April 7, the Fleet Feet Sports “Run Now Wine Later 5K” will kick off a full weekend of festivities including the 13th annual Santé South Wine Festival, the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival, and the One Behind the Other Tandem Bike Rally. Food, wine, music, art, good company...this is a weekend to look forward to!
The Fleet Feet Sports RNWL 5K is the only race in the area where runners can enjoy a wine and cheese social to celebrate finishing the race. Teaming up with Santé South, the run begins and ends near the Ridgeland Tourism Center located at the Renaissance at Colony Park. As the runners enjoy a much-deserved indulgence after the competition an awards ceremony will immediately follow.
First place overall male and female winners in both the run and the walk will receive tickets to the Santé South Wine Festival on April 7th. Awards will be given to the top 3 male and female finishers in the following age groups for both the run and the walk: 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over.
Now in its fourth year, RNWL has grown greatly. Santé South’s Patty Dunn explains, “In 2015, we had over 50 runners participating in the race. Last year it increased to over 200 runners. It's expected that 2017 will bring 400-500 runners out to Renaissance at Colony Park to compete in the Fleet Feet timed race.”
After RNWL, Santé South’s events benefiting Alzheimer’s Mississippi run April 7-8. The festival has grown into the largest wine and culinary event in Mississippi. Since its inception, the event has raised almost half a million dollars for Alzheimer’s Mississippi, and this year they project they’ll raise approximately $90,000 for the charity. It’s a good time for a good cause!
“Santé South Wine Festival is a destination event and international showcase of the world’s premier wines and some of Mississippi’s most succulent culinary delights. Boutique vintners from across the globe travel to Mississippi to present their annual newly released wines. Santé South affords a rare opportunity for the wine enthusiast to speak directly with the winemaker and features more than 120 exceptional wines and fine food samplings from more than 20 top Mississippi restaurants,” says Santé South.
Founded by wine broker Norm Rush of BeauMad & Asssociates, this will be the fifth year the event will be held in Ridgeland. Patty explains, “We have a great partnership with the Ridgeland Tourism Commission. They were looking for a partner for the festival to round out their event. We were excited to team up with them.”
Never been to a wine and food festival? Here’s what to expect: once you purchase tickets and enter the event, you receive a commemorative tasting glass, a plate for food samplings, a pocket-sized wine guide, and a pen to take notes. The 80-paged wine guide provides information on each of the 30 winemakers and the vintages of wine they’re pouring. The guide also includes information on the sponsors and featured restaurants.
Seventy percent of the actual wine makers will be present to serve the wine and interact with guests. Attendees will have the unlimited opportunity to sample all the goods. The festival rounds off with silent auctions and a raffle. Lucky winners will receive cases of vino from participating wineries.
Aside from imbibing in the art of fine wines and dining on delicious foods, the weekend will include even more forms of artistry to enjoy. In the past, the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival (RFAF) has attracted thousands of eventgoers—local and out-of-state. This year should be no different. The festival to be held April 7-8 at Renaissance will feature many opportunities for the whole family, such as 12 mediums of visual art by 85 artists from across the US. To preview work and scope out the 2018 artists, visit the Ridgeland Fine Arts Fest website. Renaissance merchants will have ongoing weekend specials during the festivals as well.
The Children’s Craft Corner is where the hands-on “make and take” art activities will be held. “Not only will your child learn about the history and culture of art, they will also be learning crafts from the best of the best! Master craftsmen from around the state will gather to teach your child a variety of crafts including pottery, wire sculpture, mosaics and wood working. Children’s Crafts Corner events will be ongoing through each day of the festival,” states RFAF.
A Student Gallery will display local high school students' artwork, from paintings to ceramics to multi-media projects. There’s more—a festival isn't quite complete without live music. "The Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival is proud to be a destination for not only fine visual arts, but musical arts as well. We love to be the stage for exciting local and regional performers and strive to present a diverse and fun lineup to complement the festival and the weekend,” says Patty.
The RFAF also features the weekend-long event One Behind the Other (OBO) Tandem Bike Rally. When OBO began three years ago it was the first of its kind in our state. The Ridgeland Tourism Commission has teamed up with Crooked Letter Cycling to plan an outstanding destination weekend for this year including lots of new cycling routes.
Not familiar with bike rallies? What does “riding tandem” really mean? A tandem bike is a unique bicycle that seats more than one cyclist—one behind the other. This community of cyclers travels the US to participate in tandem rallies and meet with fellow cycling friends.
The weekend events will be an optional ride Friday, and the OBO opening night reception at the Mississippi Craft Center. "What better combination than craft art and craft beer to kick off the weekend,” adds Patty. “The menu includes some southern favorites and music by a local jazz and blues guitarist."
On Saturday, the main feature ride will lead tandem cyclists around the Ross Barnett Reservoir and Natchez Trace Parkway. The participants are invited to attend Santé South and all Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival events during the weekend. A pre-Santé South Social at Embassy Suites will provide cyclists with even more opportunities to cultivate friendships. Sunday morning will offer several more impressive routes to choose from.
Mina Thorgeson of the Ridgeland Tourism Commission explains, “Most of the cyclists are from outside of Mississippi. This event and the weekend as a whole will provide a positive image to showcase our great state on many people's first trip to Mississippi.”
OBO has the support of special guest, Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee. The mayor is an avid cyclist and will be a tandem rally participant.
This unique community of cyclists likes to shop, eat delicious food, and travel to new locations—it’s a great fit for Ridgeland. Mary Straton Smith of the Ridgeland Tourism Commission says, “This is a first class event that’s very personalized. We want each OBO team to get to know each other and get to know us. There’s lots of time to socialize, rest stops have unique foods and snacks from our area, and cyclists are welcome at all the weekend’s events.”
Participants can even take advantage of the free concierge service. Anything purchased at the RFAF can be hand-delivered directly to the hotel—no need to worry about carrying purchases via tandem bike.
It's this thoughtful attention to detail that makes this Ridgeland festival weekend so popular. The Ridgeland Tourism Commission says it well; “Visitors feel a uniquely warm welcome when doing business, shopping, dining or relaxing in a very special community that blends big city energy and small town charm."
The stacked weekend events will truly appeal to everyone—kids, runners, art enthusiasts, wine lovers, and beyond! April 7 - 8 will be an exciting opportunity to enjoy what makes Ridgeland and the South as a whole an inspired, vibrant, and inviting place to be. Don't miss this premier festival weekend in one of Mississippi’s best communities.
For more information visit the Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival and Santé South websites.