KENANSVILLE – The 2021 North Carolina Muscadine Festival brought together visitors from across East Carolina at the Duplin Events Center in Kenansville on Saturday, September 25.
âWe had around 2,000 attendees,â said Amanda Justice, director of the Duplin Events Center.
The annual event, which began in 2005, featured 20 North Carolina wineries featuring wineries, food vendors, and live music for all to enjoy.
A popular tradition of the NC Muscadine Festival is its annual winemaking competition, which is now in its 15th year. The competition welcomed amateur and professional winegrowers who competed in four categories. The wines were judged on color, clarity, bouquet and flavor.
There were four categories in total according to Justice. Michael Henderson from Beulaville took 1st place in the White Wine category. Kevin and Marilee Tingen, from Angier, took 1st place in the Red Wine and Blush Wine categories and Carlton Lanier from Beulaville took 1st place in the Blended Wine / Fruit category.
The Tingen’s have been participating in wine competitions for more than 10 years. They come in individually, bring a tent and make it an event.
âMy dad made wine, and it was WEAKING,â said Kevin Tingen, who used that as a motivation to learn the trade, so he could be ready to compete in wine competitions. âI actually studied the science behind it, so that would be nice. “
White wine is the favorite wine of the Tingen. “Reason why it takes a little more finesse to bring it to Duplin standards,” he explained.
Tingen shared that he surprised his friend Russel Cozik by entering a Cozik blueberry wine made last year, “which he didn’t like and was going to get rid of.” Tingen secretly submitted it for his friend, winning 2nd place from Cozik in the fruit category.
“He had no idea,” Tingen said. âWe called him and told him. He said he didn’t know what these judges were drinking.
The musical entertainment began with performances by the Antique Outlaws Band at 10 a.m., followed by the North Tower Band at 12:30 p.m. and Catalinas at 4 p.m.
The beautiful day was a bonus for the participants who enjoyed the local wine and danced to the tunes of beach music.
Amanda Ezzell, owner of Something Good food truck, and a saleswoman at the event said she served around 700 people during the festival.
The winner of the 2021 tailgating decoration competition was Jacksonville native Donald Kautter. The Tailgaters were judged on creativity, originality, theme and humor.