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St. Augustine Spanish Food & Wine Festival

Mar 4, 2022

Flagler College hosted a one-of-a-kind tasting festival.

Guests at St. Augustine Spanish Food and Wine Festival

Guests at St. Augustine Spanish Food and Wine Festival

The Spanish Food & Wine Festival has a reputation for bringing fine cuisine to the Ancient City and raising money for charity throughout the years. The event has raised over $380,000 for local non-profits in the past. This year, Flagler's own Hospitality and Tourism Management Program was featured as the key organization.

Students in the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program helped plan, organize, and execute this year's festival as part of the hands-on work they learn in the classroom.

One class offered in the program is beverage appreciation. Students participated in different tastings around St. Augustine throughout the course to learn about tableside service and how to describe and differentiate certain wines and spirits. Julia Corrie, a senior in beverage appreciation, took what she learned in that course and helped with the first day of the event on February 24.

"I helped with set up and checking in guests, which called for serving an introductory champagne to start the evening. Being able to know what goes into an event of that caliber is a valuable skill to have for the future," Corrie said.

Other students helped run operations on different days, like Emily Newton, a junior Hospitality and Tourism Management student.

"I really enjoyed how hands-on it was. I was able to talk to people from all over about their days and the hospitality program," Newton said. "I had people come up to me after I helped them raving about their experience."

The series of events was created in a way that allowed students to apply what they learned in the classroom to the planning and operation of the festival. Dr. David Rivera, director of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, said there are many takeaways that students left with after helping run the multi-day festival.

"The primary life/business experience they are receiving is the application of what they learned in the classroom. It is one thing to read about facilitating a three-day event, and it is a completely different experience to actually put practices in place to see it come to fruition," Rivera said.

Students learned the business aspects of hospitality and tourism while diving into information on different spirits and cuisines they share with the guests.

Dr. Zach Cole, assistant professor, also played a huge role in planning the festival and said he values the events for what they provide for the students.

"Putting in the work with my friend and colleague Dr. Rivera all day and seeing it happen relatively flawlessly was great. Students enjoyed working an off-campus event, and it was a truly dynamic and magical experience for all involved," Cole said.

Each day's event was sold out, bringing hundreds of guests to experience different tastings. For example, the Grand Tasting on the last day sold around 400 tickets.

"The Spanish Food & Wine Festival is a highlight that is a culmination of hard work and dedication by so many. I am looking forward to continuing the success of the event and growing it to new heights with the assistance of the students at Flagler College and the Events team," Rivera said.

"Let's do it again next year!" said Cole.

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