Feeling hungry lately? For those who answered in the affirmative, Wilson Bank & Trust will soon offer the event guaranteed to take care of even the hardiest appetite.
Taste of Wilson County, set for Thursday at 5 p.m., will be on the grounds of the Wilson Bank & Trust Main Office in Lebanon.
WB&T Marketing Director Becky Jennings is heading up the Taste of Wilson County team.
"It's going very well," Jennings said. "We had orientation with our vendors today."
She said the event will be as big this year as last, with a couple added features.
"We have a couple of new things we've added this year," she said. "One is the 'Grill Off' between local officials."
Jennings said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead, Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings are participating, and Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin will sub for Mayor Ed Hagerty to represent Mt. Juliet.
Also manning the tongs for the Grill Off will be the PFG chef, as well Chef Ron Ballard of WB&T and Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Chair Chris Crowell.
"They will be grilling and providing a taste of that grilled item for the public to sample, and then we'll have a people's choice award," Jennings said. "It will be a friendly rivalry, if you will."
Also new this year, the Taste of Wilson County will have a VIP Tent.
"We've always had a VIP section, but this year it will be under a tent, and there will be a VIP Chef just for VIP attendees," she added.
To qualify as a VIP, a person or business must be a sponsor of the event or buy a table. VIPs will receive valet passes, and there will be special attendants for those under the tent.
"VIP Chef Melissa Shoaf will be making them a special dinner for them to taste under the tent, but they can still taste around the event," she said. "We also have a local decorator who will come in to decorate each table," Jennings said. "Anyone who would like to purchase a table can contact me or Sue Vanatta at the chamber. It's very reasonable — $250 for 10 tickets and five valet tickets."
While the general public benefits from all the good food, the event also raises money for all the education programs that are run through the chamber.
"Books from Birth, the Teacher Grants program that give money to innovative teachers in the county, all of that funding comes from this event," Jennings said. "It also benefits the Tennessee Scholars Program that awards scholarships to local high school graduates and three scholarships distributed via the chamber.
It's a case of good food for good causes, and it brings the county together.
"This is for the entire county," she said. "Rarely does an event bring everybody together. We will have vendors from Mt Juliet and Lebanon all coming together for a common cause."
Advance tickets can be still purchased for $15 at WB&T’s Wilson County locations, at the chamber office or at participating restaurants. Tickets are $20 at the gate.
WB&T's annual Oktoberfest event will celebrate 25 years this October, and the bank is pulling out all the stops to make sure Wilson County has two days of unique fun.
WB&T Assistant Marketing Director Brain Bennett said Oktoberfest is an all-hands-on-deck deal at the bank.
"We all kind of do that," he said. "It always kind of comes together.
He saidt the event has a lot of different facets that keep bank employees busy up to the last moment.
"We've got a lot going on," he said.
The event will feature not only the ever-popular antique car show, but also a cornbread cook-off and tasting, a fine arts contest, a photography contest for youth and adults, punt, pass and kick contest, quilt show, tractor show and youth talent show. Admission is free.
Bennett said it's hard to determine just how many people will attend the two-day event.
"We expect 400 cars in the car show, that's one of our gages because we don't charge for attendance," he said. "There will also be a tractor show on Saturday and youth soccer games as well."
Food is still a big attraction, and several local vendors will be on hand to feed the multitude of expected visitors. There will also be live music. Bennett said organizers expect thousands to attend.
In honor of Oktoberfest's silver anniversary, everyone is invited to register for the $250 cash drawing at the event. The winner will also be one of 25 finalists in the bank's $2,500 cash giveaway at the end of the year.
The event will once again be at WB&T’s Main Office at 623 West Main Street in Lebanon. The car show is still a highlight of Oktoberfest on Sunday, and more than 400 cars can now be expected to fill up the lawn on the west side of the bank.
The entire bank campus and surrounding grounds are transformed for Oktoberfest weekend, and nearly every foot of space is used for housing a neighborhood of inflatable games, craft booths, tents, demonstrators and displays. The space required for the event attractions has shifted all parking to nearby lots and satellite locations.
Oktoberfest’s history will be celebrated at this year’s event with birthday activitities from 2:30-3 p.m. at the gazebo near the Main Office building. Cake will be served, and the WB&T choir will perform.
Oktoberfest 2012 takes place Oct. 20-21. Event hours are Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. Tickets or entry fees may apply to some activities.
"There will be stuff going on both days, but it's not the same stuff, so people can come out on both days and see something different," he said.
For more information about Oktoberfest and related contests, visit wilsonbank.com/oktoberfest, or call 615-444-2265.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.