A beautiful, Famously Hot Sunday. A sold out crowd. A scenic outdoor setting. Live music. Booth after booth offering food and drinks. And hardly a mask to be seen. The finale event of the Columbia Food and Wine Festival recalled, perhaps for the first time, weekends in the Capital City before COVID-19 changed everything.

The event, established in 2018 by the Five Points Association and Free Times, has grown into a four-day celebration of all the best food and beverages Columbia has to offer (while the titular wine is certainly a highlight, many other drinks are available too).

A kickoff dinner in Five Points Thursday was followed Friday and Saturday by an interactive charcuterie, coffee and cocktail happy hour, a progressive dinner, a “Heavy Metal Brunch,” a ladies who lunch event, “Bar-be-que&A” and a dinner on the runway at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

Sunday’s finale had more than 40 restaurants and breweries taking over the grounds of the historic Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens and Robert Mills House and Gardens in downtown Columbia, and the happiness of a return to normal was obvious to all.

“People are just so happy to be out and doing things like this again,” said Anne Blair as she and her friends sampled offerings from Hall’s Chophouse. “Everyone is just in a good mood and I love it.”

The employees and volunteers noticed too, with one pointing out that they had served hundreds of people and not encountered a single instance of rudeness.

Information on the festival as plans for 2022 begin is available at columbiafoodandwinefestival.com.

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