A little more than three years ago a new tradition was born in Mount Airy.
That was the first Bud Break Wine Festival, an event meant to celebrate the growing wine industry in the region.
The Mount Airy Rotary Club and the Downtown Business Association were the driving forces behind this. Among the things they wanted to accomplish with the event were:
• To mark the growing economic influence the wine industry has in this region;
• To provide a drawing card for a different demographic of visitor to the city to diversify an already successful tourism industry;
• To raise money for the Rotary Club’s charitable efforts in the community.
Starting and continuing this festival has not been easy. Balancing the needs of vineyards and wineries with those of downtown merchants can be a delicate operation. Handling protesters who believed, erroneously, that holding a wine festival was tantamount to supporting drunkenness and alcoholism, has been a bit of a battle at times. And this year there was the car raffle in which no one won a car (through no fault of the Rotary club or the DBA).
But through all of those difficulties, the Rotary, the DBA and others in Mount Airy have seen the potential the Bud Break festival carries. That first year the festival was a success — it brought hundreds to downtown Mount Airy, paid for itself, and left $210 left over to give to the Rotary Club.
The event has grown considerably since then. This year thousands attended, and earlier this week the festival presented the Rotary Club with a check for $10,000 — the proceeds after all expenses were paid.
While Bud Break might not reach the size of the annual Autumn Leaves Festival, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Mount Airy each year, we believe it has already been a major success story. We also believe its best days are still ahead of it, and those who began this festival and have shepherded it through the first few years have added a major component to the area’s tourism industry.