NEW EGYPT –
From food and line dancing, to live music, pony rides and vineyard tours, there was a little something for everyone at Laurita Winery’s Food Trucks and Fire Pits event.
Ray Shea, who is co-owner of the winery with Randy Johnson, said they hold the festival because food trucks have become popular.
“You put a bunch of the [food] trucks in one place and a beautiful setting together with what we consider good wine – it’s just a magical combination of ingredients that’s proved to be a very successful recipe,” Shea said.
While there were wine tastings for adults, Shea said the event is geared toward people of all ages. In addition to a playground for kids, there was also pony rides, face painting, fireworks, wood carving demonstrations and country line dancing.
“We try to design our entertainment activities for the entire family,” Shea said.
Each festival is dedicated to a different charity and 10 percent of all ticket sales from this event benefitted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Shea said that organization was chosen because he lost his 25-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1998.
“They do great work in terms of research and in terms of patient services,” Shea said. “We’re very proud to make a donation to them.”
Shea said he previously served on the board of directors of the organization.
“We’re doing our small bit to make the world a better place,” he said.
Alain Fortier, of Freehold, said he was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2012 and finished treatment in November 2013. He and his wife, Marie, said they were glad to hear the money was benefitting the LLS.
“They need money for research and this is a fantastic outing,” Alain Fortier said. “It’s a great thing.”
The couple each tried food from different trucks and was going to get dessert next, Fortier said.
“There’s just so many different types of food,” he added.
Kate Devine, marketing and entertainment manger, said 4,700 people attended the event on Saturday and they were expecting to have more than 10,000 attendees before the weekend was over.
“This is much more crowded than it was yesterday at this time,” she said. “It’s the biggest event that Laurita has.”
In the original tasting room on the property, Farm Treasures owner Steve Layton turned it into an antique store with a winery theme.
“Our whole theme is in support of New Jersey vineyards and certainly Laurita winery,” he said.
Vince Sgro, who is an ambassador at the winery, said 70 percent of the building was made from recycled material.
The outdoor benches and tables were from the state of New Jersey and the tasting room was made from two refurbished barns. Sgro said there are also five miles of trails throughout the property that are open to the public.
The 300-acre property has a 40-acre vineyard with 36,000 vines across the rolling hills and produces a variety of wine – including the Down the Shore wines Windswept White, Beachcomber Blush and Relaxing Red.
“People compare us to a little spot in Tuscany,” Sgro said.
While many people were just coming out to the event, engaged couple Tommy Veltre and Carley Giquinto said they were scoping the winery as a possible wedding location and were just starting to taste the different wines.
“We were unsure about a winery wedding but now that we see it, it’s done,” Giquinto said. “It’s beautiful.”
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