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The Highlands Food & Wine Festival is made of several unique events, each with its own culinary and musical experience.

Highlands is a hidden gem located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Known for its natural beauty, stunning estates, and world-class restaurants, Highlands, NC has always been a retreat for the Atlanta and Florida elite.

Historically a seasonal resort, the town of Highlands experienced a sharp drop-off in tourism in October. The Highlands Chamber of Commerce had created a Culinary Weekend, an event designed to extend the shoulder season into November for hotels, restaurants, and retail stakeholders.

After nine years, however, Culinary Weekend was not growing or attracting new visitors to Highlands. The Highlands Chamber wanted an event partner that could breathe new life into an otherwise stagnant weekend.

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Challenges

  • To revamp Culinary Weekend so that it attracted destination visitors and regional/national PR for Highlands, NC.
  • To create an event that showcases local talent and treasures, while also incorporating nationally known chefs and musicians to increase the event buzz.
  • To create an economic and environmentally sustainable festival that would both give back to and protect the community.
  • To create a unique festival experience that differentiates itself from other Food & Wine festivals.

"The Highlands Chamber wanted an event partner that could breathe new life into an otherwise stagnant weekend. We wanted to showcase local talent, while also incorporating nationally known chefs and musicians. Casey Reid"

Solutions

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Highlands Food & Wine now attracts visitors from over 25 states.
  • Eleven Events capitalized on the 10th anniversary of Culinary Weekend by creating Highlands Food & Wine, a 4-day event that attracted destination visitors (heads in beds) by featuring the best in food, beverage, and live music.
  • Eleven Events oversaw every detail, from the creative concept to marketing/PR, production, and operations.
  • Eleven created an arrival moment and outdoor reception at the hotel that honored all winners.
  • James Beard Award-winning chefs, international winemakers, internationally renown brands, and Grammy Award winning artists like Bruce Hornsby, Mavis Staples, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dawes, and Robert Earle Keen are up close and personal in this intimate, VIP festival.

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Results

By the third year, Highlands Food & Wine had become a regional phenomenon. The 2018 event was a complete sellout, many events reaching capacity 5 months in advance.

The festival has attracted visitors from over 25 states and boasts a demographic that enjoys $350K+ annual household income. Retail locations in Highlands, NC report huge jumps in sales during the festival, rivaling the numbers produced by the July 4th crowd, historically the biggest.

By 2018, most hotel and lodging partners were at 80% capacity for the following year as guests re-book their stay for the following year before they leave.

Most recently, Highlands, NC received regional and national editorial coverage as a premier, year-round destination.


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